Kremlin: Any attack on annexed territory will be attack on Russia
The Kremlin said on Friday (Sep 30) that attacks against any part of the swathe of Ukraine that President Vladimir Putin was about to annex would be considered aggression against Russia itself, adding that Russia would fight to take the whole of the eastern Donbas region.
Moscow is declaring Ukraine's Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, largely or partly occupied by Russian or Russian-backed forces, to be part of Russia.
The head of Russia's lower chamber of parliament said on Friday (Sep 30) that President Vladimir Putin had notified the house about plans to admit four regions of Ukraine into Russia - a technical step towards Russia's annexation of the territories.
State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, a key Putin ally, said on the Duma's official Telegram channel that Putin had informed the parliament of official requests by the regions.
Asked by reporters if an attack by Ukraine on the territories Russia is claiming as its land would be considered an attack on Russia, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: "It would not be anything else."
Putin said last week he was willing to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia's "territorial integrity".
The exact details of Russia's annexation are unclear but it appears that Russia is laying claim to about 109,000 sq km (42,000 sq miles) of Ukrainian territory, or about 18%, in addition to Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.
Russia had held what it called referendums in four partially-occupied areas of Ukraine - Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, and said they had produced overwhelming majorities in favour of joining Russia.
Western governments and Kyiv said the votes had been carried out under the coercion of occupation, were unrepresentative and breached international law.