Russian President Vladimir Putin’s on Feb. 21 said that Russia recognizes the independence of the separatist Donetsk and Lugansk regions in eastern Ukraine, which some Western officials assert would give Moscow the pretext to send in troops.
Putin, in a lengthy speech, said that he will “immediately recognize the sovereignty” of the Donetsk and Lugansk republics. On Monday morning, the leaders of the two areas, which make up much of the Donbas, requested Putin to recognize their independence from Ukraine.
Before, in his speech, Putin suggested that Ukraine isn’t a real country and believes it’s “ancient Russian lands.” The modern Ukrainian state, he alleged, was created by Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin, who ultimately separated Ukraine from the imperial Russian empire.
“Ukraine is not just a neighboring country for us, Ukraine is a part of our cultural space,” Putin asserted, suggesting that the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union saw Russia get “robbed” of Ukraine. Now, Ukraine is a “U.S. colony” with a “puppet regime” in charge, the Russian leader further said.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in response, said Putin’s declaration that he recognizes the two regions as independent is a breach of international law.
“Plainly what has happened is extremely bad news … we will be talking to our allies urgently,” Johnson told reporters at a Monday news conference.