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The day after Developments in Russia and around the world following Moscow’s recognition of eastern Ukraine’s two breakaway ‘republics’
On February 22, 2022, Russia’s Parliament unanimously ratified agreements signed a day earlier by President Putin on “friendship, cooperation, and mutual assistance” with the two self-declared republics in eastern Ukraine. The Federation Council also granted a presidential request to deploy Russian troops abroad, giving the Kremlin the legal grounds to send soldiers openly into eastern Ukraine.
Calling the Kremlin’s actions in eastern Ukraine “the beginning of a Russian invasion,” U.S. President Joe Biden announced new sanctions against Russia, imposing “full blocking” on two large Russian financial institutions and “comprehensive sanctions” on Russian debt. Washington is also targeting several more elites and their families in hopes of punishing Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.
The European Union has imposed sanctions on all 351 State Duma deputies who voted to approve Russia’s recognition of the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk “People’s Republics,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell announced on Tuesday. Europe also designated another 27 individuals and legal entities, including banks that finance Russia’s operations in the Donbas, for sanctions.
Russia to evacuate its embassy and consulates in Ukraine
Russia’s Foreign Ministry says it is pulling all diplomatic personnel from its embassy in Kyiv and consulates in Kharkiv, Lviv, and Odesa. Moscow says its staff in Ukraine have received threats of violence which the local authorities have ignored.
BREAKING: Putin says Moscow recognizes the boundaries of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions as the “borders” of the D/LNR
“As for within what borders we will recognize these republics: We recognized them, which means we recognized their constitutions. And in the constitutions the borders are spelled out within the confines of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions — at the time when they were part of Ukraine,” Putin said.
At the same time, Putin underscored that territorial disputes between the D/LNR and Ukraine should be resolved through negotiations.
In addition, Putin said that just because the Federation Council gave permission for the deployment of Russian troops to the Donbas this doesn’t mean that they will be sent there now.
Breaking: The Russian Parliament’s upper chamber has given Putin permission to deploy the military abroad.
Breaking: President Vladimir Putin has delivered an appeal to the Parliament’s upper chamber on the deployment of the Russian military abroad, says Federation Council Chairwoman Valentina Matvienko.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said a break in diplomatic ties between Russia and Ukraine would only create additional problems. Relations with Ukraine “need to be improved at some point,” Peskov told reporters.
Earlier today, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said that he is considering breaking off diplomatic relations with Russia.
The LNR’s de facto leader Leonid Pasechnik estimates that rebuilding the “republics” will cost 1.5 trillion rubles (that’s almost $19 billion).
Notably, the cooperation treaties Russia signed with the DNR and LNR state that Moscow will take steps to maintain the breakaway regions’ financial and banking systems, based on the fact that they use the Russian ruble.
The Russian Foreign Ministry says that the issue of where Moscow recognizes the borders of the DNR and LNR “won’t be settled in an hour” and will be dealt with at a later date.
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Kenya’s UN ambassador Martin Kimani connects the dots between Africa’s colonial history and Russia’s aggression against Ukraine in a remarkable speech to the Security Council.
The Ukrainian Parliament has adopted an appeal urging the international community to condemn Moscow’s recognition of the DNR and LNR, and impose tough sanctions on Russia. Ukrainian lawmakers are calling for both sectoral and personal sanctions, including cutting Russia off from the SWIFT system.
Russia’s former prime minister Dmitry Medvedev has taken to Twitter to express his displeasure over Germany halting the certification of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. “Welcome to a new world where Europeans will soon pay 2,000 euros for a thousand cubic meters of gas!” he wrote.
Belarus respects and understands Russia’s decision to recognize the independence of the “republics” in eastern Ukraine, the country’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The EU is preparing “robust” sanctions against Russia that will target officials and politicians, trade, and state bonds, Reuters reports. EU foreign ministers are set to discuss the sanctions package this afternoon. According to a joint statement, the sanctions will include blacklisting those who were involved in recognizing the DNR and LNR.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that the UK will impose sanctions on five Russian banks and three individuals close to Vladimir Putin — Gennady Timchenko and brothers Boris and Igor Rotenberg.
“This is the first tranche, the first barrage of what we are prepared to do,” Johnson told parliament on Tuesday.
These three “high-net worth individuals” will banned from travelling to the UK and any assets they hold there will be frozen. The sanctioned banks are Promsvyazbank, Rossiya Bank, Industrial Savings Bank, General Bank, and Black Sea Bank.
Russia loses a major soccer match
In response to Russia’s actions in eastern Ukraine, the 2022 UEFA Champions League Final — originally scheduled to take place at the Krestovsky Stadium in St. Petersburg, Russia, on May 28, 2022 — will now be moved to another location.
Behold the unanimity of the Russian Parliament’s support for recognition of eastern Ukraine’s separatists.
Russia’s stock market is taking a beating, following Moscow’s decision to recognize eastern Ukraine’s separatists. “Russian stocks are down 14 percent just this week,” tweets FT Moscow bureau chief Max Seddon.
Parliament fully ratifies recognition for eastern Ukraine’s separatists
The upper house of Russia’s Parliament has unanimously adopted the recognition of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic. Earlier in the day, the State Duma also unanimously adopted Monday’s agreements with the DNR and LNR.
Speaking at today’s session of the Federation Council, International Affairs Committee member Alexander Karelin condemned the “inhumanity of the Kyiv authorities” and complained that the Ukrainian government has now twice spoiled Russia’s Winter Olympics glory, first in Sochi in 2014 and now again in Beijing.
Speaking publicly on Tuesday, Vladimir Putin “refuted speculation” that his administration plans to restore the borders of the Russian Empire.
Responding to the Russian ruble tumbling in value after Moscow’s recognition of eastern Ukraine’s two breakaway “republics,” State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin proclaimed on Tuesday that Russians “need to believe in our national currency.” “We need to think about the development of our country, and then the ruble will recover and become stronger.”
During speeches made by members of Russia’s Federation Council, multiple senators described purported horrors perpetrated by the Ukrainian government against the residents of the breakaway “republics.” For example, Defense and Security Committee chairman Viktor Bondarev said, “Citizens of the republics are tired of the constant bombings in which women and children are killed.”
Later, Senator Andrey Klishas argued that the two breakaway statelets were formed in accordance with international law following the illegal coup that unseated Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014.
Deputy Chairman Konstantin Kosachev then took the podium and railed against the “radical nationalists who gunned down people at Maidan Square and burned them up in Odessa” (referring to the Trade Unions House fire in May 2014).
Russia’s Federation Council is now in session to discuss and vote on the recognition of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine. A live stream of the proceedings (in Russian, of course) is available here.
Citing Russia’s recognition of eastern Ukraine’s two breakaway “republics,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has ordered the withdrawal of a key document needed for the certification of Nord Stream 2, killing Germany’s support for a key and nearly complete gas pipeline that Russia hoped to use as an alternate route for its energy products to the European market.
In a briefing with journalists on Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov fielded questions about where Moscow recognizes the borders of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic. Peskov said Russia accepts the two breakaway groups as they see their own borders, but he declined to comment specifically about cities that the separatists claim as their own that currently remain under the Ukrainian government’s control:
CNN: Regarding the recognition of the sovereignty of the DNR and LNR, tell me, are we talking about recognizing them in their current, de facto borders or within the borders of the entire Luhansk and Donetsk regions? As we understand it, these are a bit different.
Dmitry Peskov: Within the borders that they have proclaimed themselves.
CNN: Proclaimed at what point?
Dmitry Peskov: Well, when these two republics were proclaimed.
Bloomberg: Can you elaborate on this issue?
Dmitry Peskov: No, I have nothing to add.
Ekho Moskvy: Do these borders include Mariupol, for example?
Dmitry Peskov: I have nothing to add to this. Within the borders in which they exist and have been proclaimed.
Ekho Moskvy: In which they exist or were proclaimed?
Dmitry Peskov: Well, in which they were proclaimed and exist.
Ekho Moskvy: Meaning, within the current borders?
Dmitry Peskov: I have nothing to add to this.
BBC News: Can you clarify? I don’t quite understand: Will the recognition of the people’s republics mean the borders that exist now or those that they’ve proclaimed themselves?
Dmitry Peskov: Within the borders in which these republics were proclaimed.
BBC News: In 2014? Meaning, the entire Donetsk and Luhansk regions?
Dmitry Peskov: In this case, I’ve said everything I can on this subject.
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