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Russia officially recognizes independence from Ukraine of eastern breakaway regions

In a move sure to further fuel tensions with the West, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday officially recognized Ukraine's breakaway Donetsk and Luhansk regions as independent states and signed the relevant agreements with the separatist leaders in the Kremlin.

Putin also said he will request that Russia’s parliament "immediately recognize" the agreements as valid.

He also called on Ukraine "to stop the hostilities in the Donbas region" of eastern Ukraine – along Russia’s border, where Donetsk and Luhansk are located – saying that otherwise "the responsibility for what happens" will lie with the country's leaders.

Explaining his decision, Putin said a threat to Russia is arising due to "Ukraine's military development by NATO," which he said is already happening.

Ukraine is not a member of NATO, and prospects for membership are distant, but Putin has raised the possibility of it joining the alliance as justification for his recent demands in the region.

Security concerns ‘ignored’

Lashing out at Ukraine’s government, Putin said "the oligarchic Ukrainian authorities" do not care about the well-being of the Ukrainian people but instead "serve the geopolitical interests" of the West in order "to defend stolen money."

He also insisted that Russia has tried to address security issues peacefully, but its principal concerns were ignored by Ukraine and the US.

Putin also blasted Washington, accusing it of being behind the 2014 “coup" that ousted a pro-Russian leader, saying it had turned Ukraine into "a battlefield against Russia," with plans to create a military command center in Crimea "targeting Russia's Black Sea fleet."

Shortly after the ouster of Viktor Yanukovych, Russia invaded and annexed Crimea, in a move the US, UN General Assembly, and Turkiye call illegal.


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