Kremlin-backed officials in Ukraine appealed to President Vladimir Putin Wednesday to annex the regions under their control, after the territories held votes denounced by Kyiv and the West as a “sham”. Ukraine called on the EU to hit Russia with more sanctions and NATO to send more weapons to the frontline after the Kremlin-installed officials rolled out the alleged results late Tuesday. The appeal came despite repeated warnings from Moscow that it could use its nuclear arsenal to defend the territories from a Ukrainian counter-offensive that has wrested back swathes of territory this month already. The EU slammed the “illegal” vote and said results were “falsified”, while Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Germany would “never recognise the results of the sham referendums”. Lugansk was the first Russian-controlled region of Ukraine to appeal to Putin to intervene, with recently captured southern regions of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson filling in shortly after. “Our residents made a historic choice and have decided to become part of the multinational population of the Russian Federation,” the Kremlin-installed leader in Kherson, Vladimir Saldo, said in a statement published on social media. Only Donetsk — which along with Lugansk make up the industrial Donbas region and have been partially controlled by pro-Kremlin separatists since 2014 — had yet to formally ask Putin for annexation. The appeal to Putin represents a turning point in the seven-month invasion as Russian officials in Moscow suggest they could use nuclear weapons in Ukraine and Putin calls up thousands of Russian military draftees to cement the Kremlin’s authority in the territories.