After so-called referendums were widely rejected as a "sham" by Kyiv and Western countries, Russian president Vladimir Putin signed the decrees to annex the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine.

The action was condemned as a flagrant violation of international law by the U.S. and Western nations, with the Biden administration announcing new sanctions against Russia.

Russia vetoes UN Security Council resolution

On Friday, Russia has vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Moscow's annexation of four Ukrainian regions.

Aside from Russia, four countries abstained: China, India, Brazil and Gabon. It is worth noting that the United Arab Emirates voted in favor of it. UN General Assembly votes will follow UN Security Council action.

The security council resolution, drafted by the U.S. and Albania, urged all states and organizations "not to recognize a pseudo-annexation" of the four regions and demanded that Moscow "immediately, completely, and unconditionally withdraw all its military forces" from the country.

United States imposes new sanctions in response to Russia's annexation

On Friday evening, U.S.

President Joseph Biden announced new sanctions against Russia for annexing some Ukrainian regions, targeting hundreds of people and entities, including parliamentarians and military contractors.

In Washington, President Joe Biden slammed Putin. "We are not going to be intimidated by Putin and his reckless words and threats," Biden said.

"He is not going to frighten or intimidate us."

The sanctions campaign led by the United States has "devastated Russia's ability to access foreign components and technology. As a result, Russia's defense-industrial base is desperate for supplies and has turned to third-country intermediaries and suppliers," according to the Treasury Department.

One senior U.S. official remarked, "there will be costs for any individual, entity, or country that provides political or economic support to Russia as a result of its illegal attempts to change the status of Ukrainian territory," including "heightened sanctions and export controls risks."

Zelensky pushes for 'accelerated' NATO membership

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced on Friday that he signed the application to join NATO. Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, confirmed the news but had the opinion that the process “should be taken up at a different time.”

Talking on the same subject, Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary-General, said: “Any decision on membership has to be taken by consensus, all 30 allies have to agree to make such a decision.” In addition, Stoltenberg stated that NATO is in favor of investigating the alleged sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines, which connect Russia to Europe under the Baltic Sea.

According to AFP, the presidents of nine NATO nations in central and Eastern Europe said on Sunday that they would never recognize the takeover of Ukrainian land. The presidents reaffirmed a decision of NATO fourteen years prior that supported the desire of Ukraine to join the military alliance.

They made no comments regarding the takeover of the Crimean peninsula. The request by Ukraine for a fast-track NATO membership last Friday is the response to the Russian annexation operation. Members of NATO have been reluctant to embrace a country that is at war because, by treaty, the alliance has to defend it.