Moscow officially recognized both Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic as independent states of Eastern Ukraine on Monday. Hours later, President Vladamir Putin signed an order to send troops into the region in a so-called peacekeeping mission. This action appears to be another move toward Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Since Donetsk and Luhansk, referred to as DNR and LNR by the U.S., declared their independence from Ukraine in May 2014, it would be difficult to imagine another scenario. Over the past weeks, Putin regularly claimed he was not planning on an invasion. Still, with Moscow’s acceptance of the breakaway regions’ statehood, Russia has a more significant advantage than it seemed to have yesterday. It is likely; however, DNR and LNR rebels are already working in tandem with Moscow in light of the weaponry used during recent ceasefire violations reported by Kyiv on Saturday.
Moreover, Moscow hosted Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko at the Kremlin over the weekend. Putin and his ally observed Russian troops’ war exercises. Alongside Russia, Belarus’ border with Ukraine offers more real estate for Moscow to use during an invasion.
Putin signed Donetsk and Luhansk’s independence proclamation and an agreement of cooperation with the leaders of the two regions, Denis Pushilin and Leonid Pasechnik, respectively, according to The Washington Post.
In an unusually theatrical setting, the president took state-run TV during an unscheduled convening of the Security Council of the Russian Federation to fire accusations against the West and Kyiv, reports CNN.
During the broadcast, Putin accused Ukraine of carrying out aggressive acts. He said the United States and its allies had issued threats and blackmail against Russia. Russia’s president rambled about U.S. President Joe Biden’s plot to push a vote to include Ukraine in NATO during his rant. He attacked NATO for the current crisis and labeled “the U.S.-led alliance an existential threat to his country,” according to AP.
Putin explained his belief that Ukraine is inextricably linked to Russia, so his decision to recognize Donetsk and Luhansk’s independence and sovereignty is long overdue. Essentially, Putin’s actions today cement Ukraine and the West’s contention that Moscow supports the rebels.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
CNN: Putin orders troops into separatist-held parts of Ukraine; by Ivana Kottasová and Tamara Qiblawi
The Washington Post: Putin orders ‘peacekeeping’ troops to separatist regions of Ukraine; by Rachel Pannett, Robyn Dixon, and Brittany Shammas
AP: Putin orders forces to ‘maintain peace’ in eastern Ukraine; by Vladimir Isachenkov, Yuras Karmanau, and Lorne Cook
Politico: U.S. to sanction Russia for declaring independence of eastern Ukraine territories; by Myah Ward
Al Jazeera: Ukraine separatists declare independence
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Dmitry Terehov’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image by Homoatrox Courtesy of Wikimedia – Public Domain License