MOSCOW, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday presided over a ceremony at the Kremlin to annex four Ukrainian regions partly occupied by his forces. Following are extracts from his speech, translated by Reuters:
"I want the Kyiv authorities and their real masters in the West to hear me, so that they remember this. People living in Luhansk and Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia are becoming our citizens. Forever. We call on the Kyiv regime to immediately end hostilities, end the war that they unleashed back in 2014 and return to the negotiating table. We are ready for this ... But we will not discuss the choice of the people in Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson. That has been made. Russia will not betray them."
"We will defend our land with all the powers and means at our disposal. And we will do everything to ensure the safe life of our people. This is the great liberation mission of our people. We will rebuild ruined settlements, housing, schools, hospitals, theatres, museums. We will restore and develop industrial enterprises, factories, infrastructure, social, pension, healthcare and education systems. Of course, we will work to improve the level of security, and together we will make sure that citizens in the new regions feel the support of the entire people of Russia, the entire country, all the republics, all territories and regions of our vast motherland."
"In 1991, at Belovezh Forest, without asking the will of ordinary citizens, representatives of the then-party elites decided to destroy the USSR, and people suddenly found themselves cut off from their motherland. This tore apart and dismembered our nation, becoming a national catastrophe.
"As once before, after the Revolution, the borders of the Union republics were carved up from behind the scenes. So the last leaders of the Soviet Union, contrary to the direct expression of the will of the majority of people in the referendum of 1991, destroyed our great country, confronting the people with a fait accompli.
"I admit that they did not fully understand what they were doing, and what consequences this would inevitably lead to in the end. But this is no longer important. There is no Soviet Union, the past cannot be brought back. And Russia today does not need it anymore. We are not striving for this."
"Sanctions were not enough for the Anglo-Saxons: they moved on to sabotage. It is hard to believe but it is a fact that they organised the blasts on the Nord Stream international gas pipelines, which run along the bottom of the Baltic Sea. In fact, they began to destroy the pan-European energy infrastructure. It is clear to everyone who benefits from this. Of course, he who benefits did it." (Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Kevin Liffey)