President Putin merges the Crimean Peninsula into Russia’s Southern region 0

President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree merging the Crimean Peninsula, which separated from Ukraine and rejoined Russia two years ago, into the mainland’s southern region. “Reorganize the Southern Federal District and the Crimean Federal District into the Southern Federal District,” read the decree published on the Kremlin’s website on Thursday. The Russian leader also appointed Vladimir Vasilyavich Ustinov as the presidential commissioner to the Southern Federal District in the decree.

Putin further submitted corresponding legislation amendments to the State Duma. The decree angered Ukraine, with its UN Ambassador Volodymyr Yelchenko rejecting the order as “null and void as any other decision taken by Crimea so far.” He asked the UN Security Council to issue a statement in response to Putin’s decree.

The ambassador circulated a draft statement calling on the 15-member council, to express its “deep concern” over Putin’s decision and to assert its “full respect for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine.” Yelchenko however said he expected Russia, one of the five countries with veto power on the council, to block the statement. Diplomatic sources have already confirmed that it was rejected by Moscow.