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Putin has Recognized the Independence of Ukraine’s two Separatist Regions

Russian President Vladimir Putin signs documents, including a decree recognizing two Russian-backed breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine as independent entities, during a ceremony in Moscow, Russia, in this picture released February 21, 2022. Sputnik/Alexey Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.

After a lengthy speech that lasted almost an hour, Vladimir Putin said he would recognize the independence of two territories in eastern Ukraine, the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) and the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR).

Following a televised address to Russia on the country’s state news channel, Putin joined the LPR and DPR leaders in signing a decree recognizing the independence of the two territories.

The move would seriously escalate tensions with the West over fears that his country could invade Ukraine at any moment and use the shootings as an excuse to attack.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has previously promised a “swift and firm response” from the United States and its allies and partners if Russia moves to recognize Ukraine’s breakaway regions as part of Russian territory, calling the move a “gross violation of international law.”

Vladimir Putin’s statement that Russia would recognize the independence of the breakaway regions of Eastern Europe was greeted in the United States and Europe with anxiety and warnings of sanctions.

There have also been alarms over Putin’s warnings of further action against Ukraine as a whole, calling into question the country’s legitimacy and posing a direct threat to Russia.

Boris Johnson said Vladimir Putin’s decision to recognize the Donetsk and Luhansk republics was “a clear violation of international law.” “This is a flagrant violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and integrity.” The British prime minister also described it as a “bad omen” and a “dark omen” that things were going in the wrong direction.

Olaf Scholz and Emmanuel Macron expressed German and French “disappointment” after being informed of Putin’s decision before his speech, according to a Kremlin report on the call.

As Putin hosted the Security Council meeting and before the Russian leader’s televised address, Joe Biden summoned his top national security officials to the White House, including CIA Director William Barnes and Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Millie.

It was unclear whether Putin’s statement would mean canceling a potential Biden-Putin summit. The Kremlin has previously dismissed the possibility of a summit as “premature”, while the United States has made it clear that it will not take place if Russia invades.

Sam Green, a professor at King’s College London and director of the Institute for Russia at the University of Twitter, called Putin’s televised address, which preceded his official recognition of two eastern Ukrainian territories, “incredibly dark and aggressive.”

“I have seen a lot of speeches by Putin and I do not think I have ever seen anything like this,” Green said. “This is a speech designed not to make people happy, but to make them angry.”

“Those who have taken the path of violence, bloodshed and lawlessness have not recognized and do not recognize any solution to the Donbas problem other than the military,” Putin said. “Therefore, I believe it is necessary to make a long overdue decision to immediately recognize the independence and sovereignty of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic.”

Russia has controlled and armed both areas since the outbreak of fighting in southeastern Ukraine after the 2014 Kiev revolution, but has sought to keep them in Ukraine with a veto over key decisions such as NATO membership.

Ukraine has said it will challenge any decision by Russia to recognize the independence of the territories and will recognize the move as a Russian decision to pull out of the Minsk agreements, a peace deal signed in 2015 that appears to be close to collapse.

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