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Day 638

1/ Putin declared martial law in the four Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine that it doesn’t entirely control. The move follows Moscow’s internationally condemned staged referendums and illegal annexation last month. Speaking to his Security Council by video feed, Putin said the martial law order was necessary because the Ukrainian government refused to accept the sham referendums, which he claimed was “the will of the people.” Russian forces, however, have repeatedly lost ground to the Ukrainian counteroffensive in the annexed territories. The head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense council warned that Putin’s order was “preparation for the mass deportation of the Ukrainian population to depressed areas of [Russia] in order to change the ethnic composition of the occupied territory.” Biden added that Putin’s slowed military invasion has put the Russian leader in an “incredibly difficult position” that may lead him to “brutalize individual citizens in Ukraine, Ukrainian citizens, to try to intimidate them into capitulating.” (Associated Press / NPR / Washington Post / New York Times / Axios)

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