MOSCOW (Fwrd Axis) — Russian President Vladimir Putin formally recognized the independence of two Moscow-backed breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine on Monday, ordering troops just hours later as the threat of war heightens.
Putin delivered a lengthy speech on Monday, officially giving formal recognition of two breakaway regions and discussing the relationship between the two regions.
“Ukraine is not just a neighboring country, they are a part of our culture,” he said.
Putin described Ukraine as a historical part of Russia that was taken away from Moscow and is now being run by a “puppet regime” controlled by the U.S. and the West. He then signed a decree formally recognizing the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic.
Discussed the events of the last hours with @POTUS. We begin the meeting of the National Security and Defense Council. A conversation with @BorisJohnson is also planned.
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) February 21, 2022
Moments after Putin’s remarks, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced he had spoken with U.S. President Joe Biden and would later have a planned conversation with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The White House said the call between the two leaders lasted around 35 minutes.
The White House released a readout of Biden’s call with Zelenskyy, saying Biden “strongly condemned Putin’s decision to purportedly recognize the ‘independence’ of” Donetsk and Luhansk.
“President Biden reiterated that the United States would respond swiftly and decisively, in lock-step with its Allies and partners, to further Russian aggression against Ukraine,” the White House said.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki released a statement following Putin’s remarks, saying Biden will soon sign an executive order prohibiting U.S. investment and trade in the Ukrainian breakaway regions.
“We have anticipated a move like this from Russia and are ready to respond immediately,” she said in a statement. “To be clear: these measures are separate from and would be in addition to the swift and severe economic measures we have been preparing in coordination with Allies and partners should Russia further invade Ukraine.”
The President also spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in a separate call, discussing “how they will continue to coordinate their response on next steps.”
The European Union condemned Putin’s actions on Monday.
“This step is a blatant violation of international law as well as of the Minsk agreements,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel said in a joint statement. “The Union will react with sanctions against those involved in this illegal act.”
“President Biden accepted in principle a meeting with President Putin following that engagement, again, if an invasion hasn’t happened,” Psaki said. “We are always ready for diplomacy. We are also ready to impose swift & severe consequences should Russia instead choose war.”