Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday decreed martial law on four illegally-annexed Ukrainian territories. Putin has not yet specified what steps would be taken under the order, which goes into effect later this week, reports The Associated Press.
Starting at midnight on Thursday morning, the annexed Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia will be subject to strict military controls, with Russia's military granted the power to arrest and detain as needed, The Washington Post reports. The decree also implied potential restrictions on travel and public gatherings, as well as tighter censorship.
The martial law orders were unanimously ratified by the upper house of the Russian parliament, the Federation Council, the Post continues.
Moscow announced the annexation of the four Ukrainian regions at the end of September, a move that was widely criticized. The U.N. General Assembly then rejected Russia's request for a secret ballot when voting on whether to condemn its actions, before overwhelmingly moving to do exactly that. Putin has also threatened nuclear action and empowered Russia's regional governors to step up Moscow's struggling war effort, Reuters reports.
Mykhailo Podolyak, senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, called the Wednesday declaration a "pseudo-legalization of looting of Ukrainians' property." "This does not change anything for Ukraine: We continue the liberation and deoccupation of our territories," he wrote on Twitter.