VLADIMIR Putin has annexed four Ukraine regions today at a Kremlin ceremony claiming that the Ukrainians within the areas are now "Russian citizens forever".
Putin said following the referendums “people have made a choice” and claimed that it is due to the “will of the people” that the annexations have happened.
Putin threatened the West by saying he would protect Russia's land “by all means necessary”.
This comes as the UN have warned that today's events would mark a "dangerous escalation" and jeopardise prospects for peace.
Read our Ukraine-Russia live blog below for the latest updates...
West is trying to break up Russia, Putin claims
Putin has accused the west of attempting to destroy Russia, in a speech made prior to the official annexation of four Ukrainian territories.
"Back in 1991 the West believed that the USSR will not come back, or Russia will not come back, from that blow," he said.
"And we had awful 1990s but Russia withstood that and became more powerful and took its deserved place.
"But the West is looking new opportunities to hit us and they always dreamt about breaking our state into smaller states who will be fighting against each other."
EU responds to Russian annexation of Ukrainian territories
The EU's leadership has released a statement following the illegal annexation of four Ukrainian territories.
"We firmly reject and unequivocally condemn the illegal annexation by Russia of Ukraine's Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions," the statement reads.
"By wilfully undermining the rules-based international order and blatantly violating the fundamental rights of Ukraine to independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, core principles as enshrined in the UN Charter and international law, Russia is putting global security at risk.
"We do not and will never recognise the illegal 'referenda' that Russia has engineered as a pretext for this further violation of Ukraine's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, nor their falsified and illegal results. We will never recognise this illegal annexation."
Read the full statement below.
Putin slams 'western hegemony' in annexation speech
"The destruction of this Western hegemony is irreversible, the world will never be the same", the Russian dictator said.
"And we are called by this history, by our faith to fight for historic Russia.
"For great, historic Russia, for future generations, for our children and grandchildren, we need to protect them from these experiments which aimed to break their soul and their consciousness.
"We are fighting for our culture, for our language so that it's impossible to cancel it and remove it from history."
In pictures: Crowds gather in the Red Square
Thousands gathered in Moscow today, as Russia celebrated the formal annexation of four Ukrainian regions.
Reports have suggested that many in the crowd are there through forced attendance.
A standing ovation from the crowd
An eery round of applause spreads through the crowd following the signing, despite the clapping, all seem very serious.
The national anthem is then played.
Putin signs each agreement
Putin has signed each of the four annexation papers, officially confirming what has been declared a "land grab" by the US.
The signing of annexation documents begins
Four Russian officials are now seated, ready to confirm the annexation of four Ukrainian regions.
Those signing the papers are sham leaders, put in place by Putin.
Putin brands the west 'colonisers'
Speaking to a crowd in the Red Square, Putin branded the west "colonisers"
"The Western elites have always been like this.
"They have been colonisers and they remain colonisers, they discriminate and they distinguish between the first class of nations and second class nations."
Putin receives loud applause from crowd
"They don't want to see us a free society. They want to see us as a crowd of slaves," he claims.
He added: "They don't need Russia. We need Russia!"
Following the statement he was met with a loud applause from the crowds.
Putin has claimed that the West are taking Russia 'for fools'
Putin said: "They are just taking us for fools.
"Russia is a great country, and it's a great civilisation and it's not going to continue to live under these false rules."
Putin claims West have a 'cruel motivation'
Putin has claimed that the West have a "cruel motivation" and claims that other nations are being "destroyed and bullied" by the West.
He added the "West is looking new opportunities to hit us and they always dreamt about breaking our state into smaller states".
Putin claims Kyiv should 'respect the decision'
Putin has claimed that "Kyiv should respect the dedication as it's the only way to peace" following the decision to annex four regions.
He added that the West must remember that people in occupied territories are our citizens "forever".
Putin claims Russian soldiers that have died are 'heroes'
He says: "All heroes of the special military operation. They are heroes.
"They are heroes of the great Russia."
Putin can not "return" to the Soviet Union past
Putin claims that he can not "return" to the Soviet Union past.
He added that there is "nothing stronger" than for people wanting to return to their roots.
Referenda is 'definitive'
Putin added that the choice of voters in the referenda is "definitive".
Putin makes false claims that Kyiv have been committing "terrorist" acts.
Putin has begun his speech
Putin has said following the referendums "people have made a choice" and that they will be signing the annexations shortly.
He has claimed that it is due to the "will of the people".
Putin's speech expected shortly
All four Russian-appointed leaders of the occupied Ukrainian regions being annexed are in attendance waiting for Putin's speech.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu is also in attendance.
Russian officials gather in Kremlin
Russian officials have been seen gathering in the Kremlin hall where Vladimir Putin is due to give his speech shortly.
Kremlin official unable to clarify the 'new borders'
A Kremlin official was unable to answer a question today in Moscow about the exact borders of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: "The Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics are recognised by Russia within 2014 borders."
However, when asked about the territories of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia which are not under complete Russian control he was unable to give an answer.
The AFP news agency quotes him as saying: "I need to clarify this, I can't answer this question right now."
Annexations to be announced soon
It is expected that Russia annexing four Ukrainian territories will be announced shortly.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to attend a ceremony in the Kremlin.
Death toll rises after missile attack in Zaporizhzhia
Andriy Yermak, the head of Zelensky's office, says at least 25 civilians have been killed.
There are now also 50 wounded following the attack in Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia.
Ben Wallace says UK 'will never recognise Russia's annexations'
The UK's Defence Minister has tweeted that the UK "will never recognise Russia's annexations" ahead of Putin's ceremony today.
He said:"The UK will never recognise Russia’s illegal annexations in Ukraine. Russia doesn’t even control some of these oblasts.
"The truth is Russia is losing in Ukraine and their incompetent Generals are sending thousands to their deaths to please President Putin’s imperialist fantasy."
NATO urged to respond 'in a conventional way'
Zbigniew Rau told the NBC News program Meet the Press NOW: "To the best of our knowledge, Putin is threatening to use tactical nuclear weapons on Ukrainian soil, not to attack NATO, which means that NATO should respond in a conventional way.
"But the response should be devastating. And I suppose this is the clear message that the NATO alliance is sending to Russia right now."
US Senator Lindsey Graham also warned any use of nuclear weapons by Russia in Ukraine would be an "an attack… on NATO itself".
Annexation nothing more than a ‘land grab’ US officials say
The United States Secretary of State has slammed the annexations taking place in Ukraine, as nothing more than “land grabs”.
“The Kremlin’s sham referenda are a futile effort to mask what amounts to a further attempt at a land grab in Ukraine,” Anthony Blinken said today.
“To be clear: the results were orchestrated in Moscow and do not reflect the will of the people of Ukraine.”
Putin has 'acted in violation of international law'
Liz Truss says the UK will never accept the regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia as part of Russia.
In a statement released this morning she said: “Vladimir Putin has, once again, acted in violation of international law with clear disregard for the lives of the Ukrainian people he claims to represent.
“The UK will never ignore the sovereign will of those people and we will never accept the regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia as anything other than Ukrainian territory.
“Putin cannot be allowed to alter international borders using brute force. We will ensure he loses this illegal war.”