Russia President Vladimir Putin signed decrees Monday recognizing the independence of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR).
The lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia, the State Duma, voted on February 15 to approve a draft appeal to ask Putin to recognize the DPR and the LPR as independent states. The DPR and LPR are both quasi-states in eastern Ukraine.
The US condemned this resolution on February 16. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that the resolution “would further undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, [and] constitute a gross violation of international law . . .”
In a televised speech on Monday, Putin stated: “I consider it necessary to take a long overdue decision to immediately recognize the independence and sovereignty of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic.” Later that day, Putin signed the two decrees recognizing independence of the two quasi-states. He also met with the DPR and LPR leaders to sign treaties of cooperation and mutual aid between Russia and the two regions.
Following these decrees, Putin sent Russian troops to the two regions to “keep the peace.” This move heightens fears that Russia is planning to invade Ukraine. Because of this, Ukraine Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba requested an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council.
Putin’s actions have been met with strong opposition. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel said that this “is a blatant violation of international law as well as of the Minsk agreements. The Union will react with sanctions against those involved in this illegal act.” UN Secretary-General António Guterres similarly condemned the action.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that President Joe Biden would soon issue an executive order prohibiting “new investment, trade, and financing” by US individuals to, from, or in the DPR or LPR. She stated: “We have anticipated a move like this from Russia and are ready to respond immediately.”