Russia lower house votes to recognize independence of eastern Ukraine regions
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Russia lower house votes to recognize independence of eastern Ukraine regions

The lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia, the State Duma, voted Tuesday to approve a draft appeal to ask President Vladimir Putin to recognize the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) as independent states. The DPR and LPR are both quasi-states in eastern Ukraine.

Chairman of the State Duma Vyacheslav Volodinn said:

[M]embers of the State Duma are convinced that the recognition of the DPR and LPR will provide foundations for enhancing security and protecting people living in the republics from external threats, as well as for strengthening international peace and regional stability in accordance with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and will begin the process of international recognition of both states.

The appeal purports that the Ukrainian government is in violation of the Minsk agreement, a 2015 ceasefire deal, and is committing “genocide of their own people.” However, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell Fontelles said the EU “strongly condemns” State Duma’s actions and believes recognition of the regions would violate the Minsk agreement.

In a 2017 report, the US Department of State described “Russian-led forces” in the region committing “numerous abuses, including torture, to maintain control or for personal financial gain.” The report also includes allegations of Russian-backed harassment of journalists and forced disappearances of civilians.

The State Duma also alleged that citizens of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions wish to be independent so that they may speak and write in Russian and freely practice their religions. However, the State Department highlighted mistreatment of religious minorities by “Russia-installed authorities” in the region in a 2020 report.

The decision to recognize the two regions now rests with Putin.