Russia’s president Vladimir Putin has signed a decree recognising the sovereignty of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, which border Russia, advancing Moscow’s conflict with Ukraine and the West.
“I believe it is necessary to make the decision that has matured long ago: immediately recognise the sovereignty of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic,” Putin said after a nearly hour-long televised address to the nation.
The move raised tensions with the West amid a month-long crisis with Russia deploying troops on the Ukrainian border and the West preparing sanctions against the country in case of an invasion.
Putin justified his decision late Monday with history going back to the Russian Empire and then Soviet Union, the expansion of Nato and the threat it presents to Russia if allowed to strike from Ukraine. He also said the people of the self-proclaimed republics in 2014, following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, deserved that recognition.
He said Russia has done everything to preserve territorial integrity of Ukraine through the Minsk agreements, but said the people in power, “who took the path of violence, bloodshed, lawlessness have never accepted any other decision on Donbas except for a military one,” he said, referring to the region.
Putin also warned his own nation of a potential threat coming from Nato and Ukraine’s possible entry in the alliance, as the relations between Russia and the West “continue to degrade” and as “Ukraine has fallen under Western control”.
“They continue blackmailing us. They threaten us with sanctions, which by the way I believe they will be introducing anyway as Russian sovereignty gets stronger and the growing power of our military forces,” Putin said.