Vladimir Putin will formally annex occupied regions of Ukraine to Russian in a major speech in Moscow tomorrow, the Kremlin has confirmed.
It comes after Moscow-backed proxy governments in Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson held referedums on whether to go ahead with the move.
Armed Russian soldiers taking ballot boxes door-to-door left the results in no doubt, and Ukraine along with most other nations have vowed not to recognise the results.
But it still marks a turning point in the war because it will allow Putin to spin the lie to his own people that any attack on those regions is an attack on Russia itself.
That expands the suite of military options he can respond with, potentially including nukes – a threat that Putin and his allies have talked up in recent days.