BREAKING: Putin recognises Ukraine rebel regions’ independence
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.
Meanwhile, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has denounced President Putin’s recognition of rebel-held areas in east Ukraine, saying it violated international agreements Moscow had signed.
“I condemn Russia’s decision to extend recognition to the self-proclaimed ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ and ‘Luhansk People’s Republic’. This further undermines Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, erodes efforts towards a resolution of the conflict, and violates the Minsk Agreements, to which Russia is a party,” Stoltenberg said in a statement.