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HomeWorldPutin recognises Ukraine rebel regions, drawing Western vows of sanctions

Putin recognises Ukraine rebel regions, drawing Western vows of sanctions

  • Ukraine and West on alert for Russia creating pretext to invade
  • White House says summit possible only if Russia does not invade
  • Moscow says Ukrainian armoured vehicles tried to enter Russia
  • Kyiv calls Russian allegation ‘fake news’
  • Rouble slides beyond 80 vs dollar as Putin addresses nation

MOSCOW, Feb 21 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin recognised two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine as independent entities on Monday, drawing U.S. and European vows of new sanctions and upping the ante in a crisis the West fears could unleash a major war.

In a lengthy televised address, Putin, looking visibly angry, described Ukraine as an integral part of Russia’s history and said eastern Ukraine was ancient Russian lands and that he was confident the Russian people would support his decision. read more .

Russian state television showed Putin, joined by Russia-backed separatist leaders, signing a decree recognising the independence of the two Ukrainian breakaway regions along with agreements on cooperation and friendship.

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Defying Western warnings against such a move, Putin had announced his decision in phone calls to the leaders of Germany and France earlier, both of whom voiced disappointment, the Kremlin said.

Moscow’s action may well torpedo a last-minute bid for a summit with U.S. President Joe Biden to prevent Russia from invading Ukraine. The rouble extended its losses as Putin spoke, at one point sliding beyond 80 per dollar. read more

Biden will issue an executive order soon prohibiting “new investment, trade, and financing by U.S. persons to, from, or in” the two breakaway regions, the White House said. It will “also provide authority to impose sanctions on any person determined to operate in those areas of Ukraine,” White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement.

Psaki said more measures would be forthcoming and the ones being prepared in response to Putin’s decree were separate from sanctions the United States and its allies have been readying if Russia invades Ukraine.

The European Union “will react with sanctions against those involved in this illegal act,” President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel said in a joint statement.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg accused Russia of continuing to fuel the conflict in eastern Ukraine and “trying to stage a pretext” for a further invasion. Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

In his address, Putin delved into history as far back as the Ottoman empire and as recent as the tensions over NATO’s eastward expansion – a major irritant for Moscow in the present crisis.

With his decision, Putin brushed off Western warnings that such a step would be illegal, would kill off peace negotiations and would trigger sanctions against Moscow.

“I deem it necessary to make a decision that should have been made a long time ago – to immediately recognise the independence and sovereignty of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic,” Putin said.

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Reporting by Reuters bureaux; Writing by Kevin Liffey, Peter Graff, Frank Jack Daniel and Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Grant McCool

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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