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"Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson - Russia!" A banner on a screen set up ahead of an expected ceremony and concert in Moscow to declare four Ukrainian regions part of Russia.

REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina

What We're Watching: Russian annexations, Brazilian election, DeSantis-Biden truce

Bluffs called in Ukraine

On Friday, Vladimir Putin will announce that four regions of Ukraine – Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson – have become part of Russia following referenda in those places that virtually no one outside Russia considers legitimate. Russian officials, including Putin himself, have said that Russia will defend its territory by any means necessary, including with nuclear weapons. This warning will have no impact on Ukrainian forces, who appear close to retaking the strategically important city of Lyman in Donetsk as part of its remarkably successful counter-offensive. Nor will it weaken support for Ukraine from America and Europe. So, what happens when Ukrainian soldiers score more victories on land that Putin claims is part of Russia? We’re about to find out.

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