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UPDATED: Russia recognizes independence of Donetsk and Luhansk ‘people’s republics’

Source: Interfax
Update: Following a lengthy video address delivered on Monday evening, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree recognizing the independence of the Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has informed French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that he intends to sign a decree recognizing the independence of the Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics” immediately.

This was reported in a statement from the Kremlin’s press service on the evening of Monday, February 21. Macron and Scholz “expressed disappointment with this development. At the same time, they expressed readiness to continue contacts,” the statement said, as quoted by Interfax.

Shortly before the news broke, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov announced that Putin was set to deliver a video address to the nation.

The announcement came after an extraordinary meeting of the Russian Security Council earlier on Monday, during which Putin said a decision on recognizing the breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine “will be made today.”

Shortly before the Security Council meeting opened, the de facto leaders of the DNR and LNR made official appeals for recognition on Russian state television.

On February 15, the Russian State Duma adopted a resolution calling on Putin to formally recognize the “republics in eastern Ukraine.” In turn, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the Russian president had taken the motion “under advisement.” 

Commenting on the resolution on February 15, Putin maintained that the conflict in the Donbas should be resolved on the basis of the 2014–2015 Minsk agreements. In turn, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov noted that Russia recognizing the “republics” would violate the accords.

The Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) declared independence from Ukraine in 2014. However, they have only been recognized by South Ossetia — a breakaway state in the South Caucasus. Notably, both “republics” claim territory that is controlled by the Ukrainian government.

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