Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree recognising the two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine as independent entities.
“I deem it necessary to make a decision that should have been made a long time ago – to immediately recognise the independence and sovereignty of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic,” Putin said in a televised address.
The West has repeatedly warned Russia not to recognise the separatist regions in Donetsk and Luhansk – a move that effectively buries a fragile peace process in the region.
Putin’s announcement paves the way for Russia to openly send troops and weapons to the long-running conflict pitting Ukrainian forces against Moscow-backed rebels.
The Russian leader delivered a long televised address that ended with his announcement, delving into history as far back as the Ottoman Empire and as recent as the tensions over NATO’s eastward expansion – a key irritant for Moscow in the present crisis.
The announcement comes amid soaring tensions over the situation in Ukraine, where Russia has massed tens of thousands of troops near the border.
Putin’s announcement comes after a meeting of the presidential Security Council and paves the way for Russia to openly send troops and weapons to the long-running conflict
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