MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin declared martial law Wednesday in the four regions of Ukraine that Moscow annexed and gave additional emergency powers to the heads of all regions of Russia.
Putin didn’t immediately spell out the steps that would be taken under martial law, but said his order was effective starting Thursday. His decree gave law enforcement agencies three days to submit specific proposals and orders the creation of territorial defense forces in the annexed regions.
The upper house of Russia’s parliament quickly endorsed Putin’s decision to impose martial in the annexed Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia regions. The approved legislation indicated the declaration may involve restrictions on travel and public gatherings, tighter censorship and broader authority for law enforcement agencies.
“We are working to solve very difficult large-scale tasks to ensure Russia’s security and safe future, to protect our people,” Putin said in televised remarks at the start of a Security Council meeting. “Those who are on the frontlines or undergoing training at firing ranges and training centers should feel our support and know that they have our big, great country and unified people behind their back.”
On Saturday, the Russian Defense Ministry said two men fired at soldiers on a military firing range near Ukraine, killing 11 and wounding 15. The ministry said two men from an unnamed former Soviet republic fired on volunteer soldiers during target practice before they were killed by return fire.
In addition to targeting the annexed regions, Putin’s broad decree could open the door to restrictions across western Russia, including Moscow, St. Petersburg and other big cities.
Putin also didn’t provide details of the extra powers the heads of Russian regions will have under his decree.
In a signal his moves could have broad restrictions for people living in Russia, his decree states that the types of measures envisaged by martial law could be introduced in Russia.
The Russian leader also ordered the establishment of a Coordination Committee to increase interactions between government agencies in dealing with the fighting in Ukraine that he continued to call a “special military operation.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin’s order doesn’t anticipate the closure of Russia’s borders, state news agency RIA-Novosti reported.