Putin set to recognize Donbass – Kremlin, by Jonny Tickle and Gabriel Gavin for RTin Russian. 21/02/2022.
Moscow will declare the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics to be sovereign states, officials have confirmed.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has told foreign leaders that Moscow is likely to officially recognize the sovereignty of the the two breakaway regions in Ukraine's war-torn east.
In a statement released on Monday, the Kremlin revealed that Putin had notified French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that he intends to sign a decree recognizing the Donetsk (DPR) and Lugansk (LPR) People’s Republics “in the near future.” According to officials, both Macron and Scholz “expressed their disappointment with this development.”
In a statement issued earlier the same day, the EU's top diplomat, Josep Borrell, urged the Kremlin not to make the decision, arguing it could be a precursor to the DPR and LPR being “annexed” by Russia. “If there is annexation there will be sanctions, and if there is recognition I will put the sanctions on the table and the ministers will decide,” he said.
Macron will now host an emergency security meeting in response to the Kremlin's announcement, Reuters reported moments after it was communicated.
The move follows requests on Monday from Denis Pushilin and Leonid Pasechnik, the leaders of the DPR and LPR, calling for Moscow's backing. Putin chaired a televised meeting of the Russian Security Council to consider the request, in which he was urged by top officials to grant both regions recognition.
The two republics split from Kiev's control in 2014, following the events of the Maidan, when violent street protests toppled the democratically elected government in Ukraine. This led to the Donbass war, which was formally ended in September 2014 by the Minsk Protocol, but has simmered since in a semi-frozen state.
According to the deal signed in Minsk, and a second follow-up text in 2015, Ukraine was required to decentralize its government and give a special status to Donetsk and Lugansk. Much to Moscow’s frustration, Kiev has failed to implement this part of the agreement.
Despite repeated requests from the Donbass republics to recognize the two regions as independent, Putin had, until now, refused to do so. Instead, Moscow had continued to pressure Ukraine to adhere to its commitments signed in Minsk.
The Russian president’s decision to declare the independence of the DPR and LPR comes as tensions remain high on the border with Ukraine. Russia stands accused of placing more than 100,000 troops on the frontier, with some Western officials alleging that it plans to invade its western neighbor. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied these suggestions.
Last week, lawmakers in Russia’s State Duma backed a motion calling on the Kremlin to recognize the sovereignty of the DPR and LPR. The proposal, introduced by the Communist Party, was supported by 351 MPs, with just 16 legislators opposing the move.