Martial law will be imposed on four annexed regions, the president said in an address today (Pictures: Russia Ministry of Defence/Sky News)

Martial law will be imposed on four annexed regions, the president said in an address today (Pictures: Russia Ministry of Defence/Sky News)

Russian president Vladimir Putin has announced martial law is being introduced in four regions of Ukraine he illegally annexed.

The decree covers Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in the south-east of the country which stretches some 40,000 square miles.

He said in a televised address to national security officials: ‘Now we need to formalize this regime within the framework of Russian legislation.

‘Therefore, I signed a decree on the introduction of martial law in these four subjects of the Russian Federation.’

Mr Putin added: ‘It will immediately be sent for approval to the Federation Council, and the State Duma will be informed of the decision.’

Military officials will now take direct responsibility for civil government functions, he told the Security Council of Russia from Moscow today.

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Martial law, usually only introduced in emergencies, is a temporary measure that places civilian needs in the hands of the military.

All regions annexed as part of a sham referendum were instructed by Mr Putin to take steps to protect ‘critically important facilities’.

He also gave additional yet unspecified powers to regional governors in the border area.

A new state coordination council will be cobbled together to fulfil the objectives of the so-called ‘large-scale security operation’ against Ukraine, Mr Putin added.

The council will be run under prime minister Mikhail Mishustin.

‘Very recently, there has been a lot of disaffection with the order reigning in the armed forces but I have today issued a decree which rectifies that,’ he said.

Mr Putin added there will be a ‘big allocation from the budget for humanitarian assistance and also for training of personnel’.

Ukraine annexed areas - Vladimir Putin declared martial law in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia Metro Graphics

The four annexed regions of Ukraine: Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

‘The Kyiv regime, as you know, refused to recognize the will and choice of people, rejects any proposals for negotiations. On the contrary, shelling continues. Civilians are dying,’ he said.

The decree signalled that Mr Putin continues to live in a parallel reality in which Moscow’s military exercises complete control over the four annexed regions.

Yet Russian forces have been in retreat across the frontline, prompting Mr Putin in a bombastic speech last month to announce the annexation plans.

‘This is the will of millions of people,’ he claimed, ‘this is their right, their inalienable right.’

Only North Korea has so far supported the annexation.

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