“Russia already had logistical and popular support in the four republics where referendums were held, and also a defensive stance,” RIA Novosti quotes Kwiatkowski.

The change had happened months earlier, she said, and was now confirmed by referendums.

Earlier, Moscow vetoed a draft UN Security Council resolution not recognizing the results of referendums in the four regions that joined Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that residents of the DPR, LPR, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions made an unambiguous choice to join Russia during referendums.