Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a joint press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Moscow, Russia, on February 15, 2022.
Sergey Guneev | Sputnik via Reuters
WASHINGTON – Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Monday night that he recognizes the independence of the two breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine, which could undermine the West’s hopes for a diplomatic solution to the current crisis.
During his speech, Putin expressed historical grievances against NATO and the United States and accused Western governments of hostile activities that threaten Russia’s security. Putin also invited the Russian people to join the region.
Ahead of Putin’s address, the Kremlin said that the Russian president had discussed his decision with French President Emanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Both leaders expressed disappointment with Putin’s decision, but expressed readiness to continue diplomatic talks, the Kremlin added.
The announcement of the recognition of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic, separatist districts in the Donbas, came hours after Putin convened a broadcast of the national security meeting.
During the meeting, high-ranking Russian officials discussed publicly recognition of independence of the two enclaves, where Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed insurgents have been embroiled in a protracted armed confrontation. The conflict in the separatist regions began in 2014, shortly after Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, a peninsula on the Black Sea.
The United States and European allies warn that Putin’s recognition of separatist regions in Ukraine could be a possible prelude to a Russian invasion.
Earlier on Monday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said he had asked for an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council. It was not immediately clear when and whether Ukraine’s request would be considered by the 15-member Security Council, of which Russia is a member.
Last week, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken warned of the recognition of Donetsk and Luhansk will provoke a “swift and firm response from the United States in full coordination with our allies and partners.”
President Biden warned Putin that the United States and its allies were ready to impose swift and serious costs on Russia.
Presented by: White House
Over the weekend, President Joe Biden accepted a meeting with Putin “in principle”, provided that Russia does not invade Ukraine.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Sunday night that the summit would take place following a meeting between Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. This meeting is scheduled for the end of this week.
Earlier on Monday, Biden convened the National Security Council to discuss the rapidly deteriorating security situation on Ukraine’s borders. second meeting in two days.
Representatives of the White House confirmed to NBC News that the United States has discussed with the Ukrainian government plans to move President Vladimir Zelensky from Kiev, if Russian forces will move forward.
Zelensky will move to Lviv in western Ukraine, a city about 50 miles from the Polish border, people familiar with the plans said.
Monday’s meeting in the White House’s situation room came after recent days of harsh warnings from the United States and European allies. On Friday, Biden said Putin would attack Ukraine “in the coming days».
Earlier, the Biden administration refused to predict Putin’s order, even as Russia deployed nearly half of its troops to Ukraine’s borders.
The Kremlin has repeatedly denied that more than 190,000 Russian troops, equipped with modern military equipment, are preparing to invade along Ukraine’s borders.
Biden’s chief diplomat said Sunday that Putin still has time to choose diplomacy.
“Until the tanks roll and the planes are in the air, we will do our best to get President Putin to overturn the decision we think he made,” Blinken told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”».
“Until the last minute, he has the opportunity to leave,” he added.
“It means carnage. It means a humanitarian catastrophe. “
The main battle tanks of the Russian army T-72B3 take part in military exercises in St. Petersburg (Russia) on February 14, 2022.
Russian Ministry of Defense Anadolu Agency Getty Images
Earlier on Monday, US Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Michael Carpenter warned that the world could no longer ignore “Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine.”
“Let’s also think about what war really means. That means carnage. It means a humanitarian catastrophe. It means the death of civilians: innocent men, women and children … War also means occupation, imprisonment, torture, ” Carpenter said.
“And let’s be clear: it will be an offensive war, a war of choice planned for months ahead.
Last week, in a dramatic speech at the UN, Blinken shared a grim assessment of what Russian forces could do with Ukraine if the Kremlin suddenly launches an attack.
“Russian missiles and bombs will be dropped across Ukraine. Communication will be shut down, cyber attacks will close key Ukrainian institutions. After that, Russian tanks and soldiers will attack key targets that have already been identified and detailed plans,” – Blinken. This was stated by members of the UN Security Council.
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman and U.S. Army General Mark Millie has painted an equally bleak picture of what Ukraine can expect, telling Pentagon reporters that Russia’s troop build-up is happening. unlike anything he had seen in his four decades of military career.
He said the Russians had deployed along the Ukrainian border the Air Force, Navy, Special Forces, Cyber-Electronic Combat, Command and Control, Logistics Engineers and other facilities.
“Given the type of forces on display, ground maneuvering forces, artillery, ballistic missiles, air force, all together. This has resulted in a significant number of casualties,” Millie said on January 28.
“It would be awful,” he added.