President Vladimir Putin asserted Friday that Russia would annex four Ukrainian regions and decried the United States for "satanism,” in a speech that marked an escalation in Moscow’s war against Ukraine. In starkly confrontational terms, he positioned Russia as fighting an existential battle with Western elites he deemed "the enemy.”

Speaking to hundreds of Russian lawmakers and governors in a grand Kremlin hall, Putin said that the residents of the four regions — which are still partially controlled by Ukrainian forces — would become Russia’s citizens "forever.” He then held a signing ceremony with the Russian-installed heads of those regions to start the official annexation process, before clasping hands with them and chanting, "Russia! Russia!”

The Biden administration quickly condemned the annexations, saying they "have no legitimacy,” and enacted a round of new sanctions on Russia’s defense and technology industries as punishment for Moscow’s actions.