After announcing yesterday through television cameras the recognition of the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk (Donbass) as independent states, President Vladimir Putin signed early this morning a decree ordering the Russian Defense Ministry to “guarantee peace” in both rebel enclaves by sending Russian troops to their territories.
The decree, published on the Kremlin website, consists of five points. In the first, “in accordance with the will of the population and Ukraine’s refusal to resolve the conflict peacefully according to the Minsk agreements,” the Donetsk and Lugansk republics are recognized as “sovereign and independent states.” The second urges the Russian Foreign Ministry to engage in talks with the two formations with the aim of establishing “diplomatic relations”.
The third point provides for the preparation of a “draft agreement with Donetsk and Lugansk on friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance” to be submitted for signature to the parties. The fourth paragraph orders the dispatch of “peacekeeping troops” to Donbass until the agreement referred to in point three is signed. The fifth and last article notes that the decree entered into force yesterday.
Zelenski accuses Russia of violating his sovereignty.
Shortly afterwards, Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelensky addressed the nation to accuse Russia of “violating the territorial integrity” of the country and to announce that he has called an extraordinary meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and requested a summit of the so-called Normandy Group (Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine) to address the situation. The OSCE and the UN have already condemned Putin’s measures while the United States recommends Zelenski to leave Kiev and move to Lviv, in the far west of the country, for security reasons.
Putin explained in his speech yesterday that “modern Ukraine was created in its entirety by Bolshevik Russia.” He called Lenin “author and architect of Ukraine” and recalled that the neighboring country was then benefited by “gifts to Ukrainian nationalism of territories historically belonging to Russia” as, according to him, the case of Donbass, which was “incorporated into Ukraine by force”.
He then reiterated that the Maidan revolt, which culminated in February 2014, was a “bloody coup d’état” orchestrated by the West which, in his opinion, “did not bring democracy” and denounced once again the threat to Russia that would be posed by Ukraine joining NATO. Putin again accused the Ukrainian leadership of refusing to comply with the Minsk agreements and accused them of creating the current “critical” situation in Donbass because of their armed actions.
The leaders of the two separatist republics of Donbass, Denis Pushilin of Donetsk and Leonid Pasechnik of Lugansk, had hours earlier asked the Russian president to recognize their respective territories as independent and to sign military cooperation agreements with them. The same was done by Moscow in 2008 in relation to the two Georgian secessionist provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, where the Russian Army was immediately deployed. Similar was the procedure by which Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014.
— Hanna Liubakova (@HannaLiubakova) February 22, 2022