Putin recognizes Lugansk, Donetsk people's republics
Russian President Vladimir Putin recognizes the LPR and DRP as independent republics and asks the house of Representatives to back his decree.
Tensions are soaring between Russia and Ukraine over the Donbass region and Moscow's latest statements about intending to sign a decree recognizing the independence of the Lugansk People's Republic (LPR) and the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR).
Russia sees that Ukraine is violating the Minsk agreements by not holding dialogue with the leaders of the two self-proclaimed republics and launching offensives against them. Moscow had several times urged Kyiv to comply with the accord it signed in 2014.
In light of the latest rounds of tensions that followed Russian President Vladimir Putin's declaration that Moscow intended to recognize the independence of the DPR and LPR, Vladimir Putin addressed Russia in a televised speech.
The Russian leader began his speech by highlighting to Ukraine and the world that "Ukraine for Russia is not just a neighboring country, but part of its history; our comrades and relatives."
Putin reflected on the history and formation of Ukraine, recalling the times of the Soviet Union, saying, "Historically, Stalin annexed parts of Poland and Romania to Ukraine, as well as Crimea. The Ukrainian state was created by communist Russia by rejecting part of Russia's historical territories. No one asked the people anything."
Though "radicals and nationalists take credit for Ukraine's independence," Putin said, they have nothing to do with it." He saw that the Bolsheviks wanted to stay in power "at any cost", even the satisfaction of any wishes of nationalists.
"Despite injustice and deceit, Russian people recognized states after the collapse of the Soviet Union and helped CIS countries, including Ukraine," Putin reminded, noting that Russia fully paid off Ukraine's debts, "But Kyiv refused to comply with agreements on the return of property."
The Russian leader denied that Ukraine ever had its "true statehood," underlining that it has been copying a model instead.
On the 2014 crisis, Putin said corruption within Ukraine eroded Ukrainian statehood. "Nationalists took advantage of this in 2014 with support from the West."
He accused the "radicals" who seized power in Ukraine of organized terror, citing the "brutal murder" of people in Odessa, saying Moscow would do "everything to punish these criminals."
Regarding the latest Ukrainian statements about wanting to become a nuclear nation once again, Putin said it was "not empty cockiness," saying it would be easier for Kyiv to manufacture nuclear weapons than for other states, citing foreign support that "cannot be ruled out."
Rising tensions between Ukraine and Russia were also caused by NATO refusing to guarantee Moscow that Kyiv would not be given alliance membership, and Putin brought up NATO's intervention using Ukraine's constitution. "Ukraine's constitution does not allow foreign military bases, but they bypassed it. They call the NATO base 'a mission'," he said.
A key threat that Russia perceives with NATO's eastward expansion is the fact that the alliance would practically have access to Russian territory and would have its arms and military equipment right next to the Russian border.
"If NATO deploys radar equipment in Ukraine, they can control Russian territory," he said, adding that the US deploying weapons in Ukraine would mean "they put a knife to Russia's throat." Putin concluded that Russia's proposals on security guarantees were rejected out of hand.
At the end of his speech, Putin recognized the independence of the Donetsk People's Republic and Lugansk People's Republic
"I sign the decree to recognize Donetsk and Lugansk people's republics," he announced.
President Putin and Donetsk leader Pushilin signed a bilateral friendship and cooperation agreements between the two parties, and he did so with Lugansk leader Pasechnik.
The head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, Denis Pushilin, had reported on the battle of the Republic's popular forces with Ukrainian troops near the border with Russia.
The chief issued a statement detailing that the Ukrainian armed forces fired more than 1,700 shells at residential areas, bombarding Donetsk with heavy artillery, mortars, grenades, and tanks. "People are dying," noted the statement.
The DPR Ministry of Emergency Situations said Saturday Donetsk had already evacuated 6,600 people, including nearly 2,500 children, over a dramatic escalation of tensions with Ukraine.