PICTURED: Russian President Vladimir Putin signs documents, including a decree recognizing two Russian-backed breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine as independent, during a ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow. PC: Alexey Nikolsky /Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images. Fair Use.
MOSCOW, Russia. February 23rd, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed executive orders on Monday recognizing the breakaway cities, the People’s Republic of Donetsk, and the Luhansk People’s Republic, (DPR) (LPR) in eastern Ukraine as individual entities, a day before moving an armed peacekeeping mission into the disputed regions.
He called it “a decision that should have been made a long time ago”. Russia refused to recognize the DPR and LPR after a pair of 2015 referendums within the breakaway states, saying that it was an “internal affair of Ukraine,” that should have been resolved by an uneasy ceasefire known as the Minsk Agreement.
On Tuesday Putin ordered the foreign ministry to establish diplomatic ties with the DPR and LPR, and ratified a treaty between them and Russia that will allow Russia to construct military bases in the regions. He also recognized territorial claims made by the DPR and LPR, which include triple the area recognized in the Minsk Agreements.
The peacekeeping mission follows an Organization for Sec. and Cooperation in Europe report that found nearly 2,000 violations of the ceasefire agreement occurring recently along the disputed border between Ukraine and the two self-proclaimed republics.
Response from the West
Within minutes of Russia’s recognition of the DPR and LPR, the U.S. announced sanctions on “Russia’s elite,” two major financial institutions, Vnesheconombank and Promsvyazbank, as well as any entity with connections to the two breakaway states or trying to enter the market for sovereign Russian debt.
On Tuesday, Germany suspended the long planned, much-maligned (by the U.S.) Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline that would have supplied Europe with 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas.
Also on Tuesday the EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell announced a package of sanctions that he claimed “will hurt Russia and will hurt a lot”. EU foreign ministers agreed on sanctions for all 351 members of Russia’s lower parliamentary house who voted to recognize the DPR and LPR, as well as 27 other Russian entities.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson sanctioned five Russian banks and froze the UK assets of three “very high net worth individuals,” whom he believed were part of Putin’s “inner circle”.
Also on Tuesday, President Biden ordered a redeployment of 800 soldiers from an Italy-based contingent, up to 8 F-35 fighter jets, plus 20 Apache helicopters, all from their existing deployments to the Baltic states of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania, a move which the President described as defensive.
He reiterated though that “we have no intention of fighting Russia”.
Lastly, Tuesday night saw Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky state that bi-lateral or multi-lateral “peace talks” were needed to stave off the rapidly growing danger of war, but not that a general mobilization was needed.