After recognising two separatist areas in eastern Ukraine as autonomous, Russian President Vladimir Putin authorised the deployment of soldiers, escalating a situation that the West worries will escalate into a major conflict.
Tanks and other military gear were observed moving into the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk, according to reports, after Putin signed a proclamation recognising the breakaway areas and instructing Russia’s defence ministry to send in soldiers to “maintain the peace.”
Although it was unclear if Putin’s actions were the first big step toward a full-scale attack in Ukraine, which Western countries have warned about for weeks, the acts sparked condemnation and threats of fresh penalties from the US and Europe. Putin did not specify the amount of the troops he would send, but the directive stated that Russia now had the authority to create military bases in the separatist territories.
Putin identified Ukraine as a vital part of Russia’s history and said eastern Ukraine was ancient Russian territory in a lengthy televised address full of grievances against the West.
Putin, flanked by separatist leaders backed by Russia, signed a decree recognising the independence of the two Ukrainian breakaway regions – the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic – as well as agreements on cooperation and friendship, according to Russian state television.
Putin had communicated his plan earlier in phone calls to the leaders of Germany and France, defying Western cautions against such a step, according to the Kremlin. Moscow’s move might jeopardise a last-minute meeting with US President Joe Biden aimed at preventing Russia from invading Ukraine, which is now in doubt.
In a speech to the country early Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who got a support call from Biden, accused Russia of sabotaging peace talks and ruled out territorial compromises.
Biden, who also talked with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, swiftly issued an executive order halting all US business in the breakaway territories and prohibiting the import of all items from those areas.
The steps, according to White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki, are distinct from the penalties that the US and its partners have been planning in case Russia invades Ukraine. The executive action, according to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, is “intended to prevent Russia from benefitting from this clear breach of international law.”
Germany, France, and the United States have decided to retaliate with penalties, according to Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s spokesperson, while British Foreign Minister Liz Truss said Britain will announce further measures on Tuesday. Russia, according to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, is “trying to build a pretext” for a new assault. In 2014, Russia took Crimea from Ukraine.
Putin touched on topics as far back as the Ottoman Empire and as current as the concerns over NATO’s eastward expansion in his speech. Kyiv and NATO nations have consistently rejected his demands that Ukraine abandon its long-term objective of joining the Atlantic military alliance. find out more
Putin disregarded aside Western cautions when he decided to recognise the separatist territories. “I believe it is imperative to make a decision that should have been made a long time ago – to recognise the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic’s independence and sovereignty immediately,” Putin stated.
Because it is an unambiguous rejection of a seven-year-old truce negotiated by France and Germany, recognition of separatist-held territories would limit diplomatic options to avert conflict. These events follow a pattern foreseen by Western countries, who have accused Russia of planning to invent a pretext to invade by blaming Kyiv for assaults and relying on separatist proxies’ requests for assistance.