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Vladimir Putin on Wednesday declared martial law in the Russian-claimed Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia.
The Russian president made the declaration following a security council meeting.
It comes just under three weeks after Putin announced the annexation of the four partially-occupied regions in southeastern Ukraine, following referendums that were rubbished by the international community.
Martial law is due to be enacted on Thursday, the Russian leader said.
A Kremlin statement published Wednesday said the martial law would allow authorities in the Russian-claimed regions to take measures to meet military and civilian needs.
Putin also ordered the creation of territorial defense units in the four regions.
Russian regions bordering Ukraine, including Belgorod, as well the occupied Crimea, will also be placed under a higher state of alert, Putin said.
Putin’s announcement came after pro-Kremlin officials confirmed the evacuation of civilians from Kherson as Ukrainian forces seemed poised to advance on the southern city, which Moscow claims belongs to Russia.
Ukraine’s armed forces have in recent weeks pushed Russian troops and their proxies back in Donetsk and Luhansk.