Vladimir Putin has declared martial law in Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, which Moscow proclaimed to have annexed in “sham” referenda last month.
In a televised address to members of his Security Council on Wednesday, the Russian President also gave additional emergency powers to the heads of the four regions.
President Putin has not outlined the steps that would be taken under martial law but said the order will be effective from Thursday.
The Russian leader has also ordered the creation of a special coordinating council under Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin to bolster his war effort in Ukraine.
“We are working to solve very difficult large-scale tasks to ensure Russia’s security and safe future, to protect our people,” President Putin said in his address.
“Those who are on the frontlines or undergoing training at firing ranges and training centres should feel our support and know that they have our big, great country and unified people behind their back.”
Under Russian law, martial law would allow greater ability to limit movement, ban public gatherings, introduce travel bans and curfews as well as conduct censorship.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov maintained President Putin’s order would not result in the closure of Russia’s borders.
Moscow authorities said they did not plan to introduce any immediate curfews or restrictions on travel.
Its comes as Ukrainian troops make further gains in the Russian-controlled region of Kherson.
The commander of Russian forces in Ukraine, Sergei Surovkin, was forced to make a rare admission of the pressures they are facing as Ukraine moves to recapture the territory.
“The situation in the area of the special military operation can be described as tense,” Surovikin told the state-owned Rossiya 24 news channel.
He revealed Russian troop positions in Ukraine’s east and south were under “constant attack”.
Surovkin warned there was a real risk that Ukranian forces would launch an assault on Kherson city with troops advancing near the Dnipro River on the west bank.
“The situation in this area is difficult. The enemy is deliberately striking infrastructure and residential buildings,” he said.
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