BULLETIN: Russia acts
After 8 years of stalemate and a recent flurry of accusations, first move toward resolving Ukraine is made unilaterally.
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There will be a lot of noise in Western media about “land grabs” and “invasion” and many interpretations of today’s events. I am sharing these reports so that there can be an unvarnished version of events coming from the other side. If you want to know what the view from Moscow is like: Just imagine Texas seceding as The Lone Star Republic, but Austin and other Blue areas wanted to remain part of the Union. Should the US forcibly try to reel Texas back in or should we reach out to support the will of the Blue separatists and offer them protection.
Putin signs ‘immediate’ recognition of Donbass regions
Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced that Moscow has recognized the two self-declared breakaway Donbass republics in Ukraine’s east as sovereign nations, as a military standoff across the contact line continues to escalate.
Speaking as part of a televised address to the nation on Monday evening, Putin signed the decree, saying that “I deem it necessary to make a decision that should have been made a long time ago to immediately recognize the Donetsk (DPR) and Lugansk (LPR) People’s Republics.” Lawmakers will now be asked to consider statements of friendship and support with the two regions.
The move, he said, was a direct result of the failure of the 2014 Minsk agreements, designed to put an end to fighting. “They are not interested in peaceful solutions – they want to start Blitzkreig,” he claimed. “Every day they are amassing troops in the Donbass,” Putin went on.
At the same time, he slammed Ukraine for “extreme nationalism,” “Nazism" and “Russophobia,” pointing to the shuttering of Russian-language news outlets and laws he said discriminate against Russian speakers.
The head of state also alleged that Kiev is sending saboteurs to target Russian infrastructure and attempting to “drag foreign states into conflict with our country.” Ukraine's ambitions to join NATO, he insisted, would mean an “immediate threat of attack against our country.”
Putin began the address by setting out his version of Ukrainian history and the former Soviet Republic's ties to Russia.“Let me stress once again that Ukraine is not just a neighboring country for us. It is an integral part of our own history, culture, and spiritual world,” he said, emphasizing that Ukrainians are “people Russians have blood and family ties with,” as well as friends, neighbors and colleagues.
Putin asserted that “modern Ukraine was completely created by Russia, or to be more exact, by Bolshevik Communist Russia.” According to him, “Lenin and his supporters did it in a crude way, alienating Russia’s historical territories. Millions of people living there weren’t asked at all.”
The Russian President pointed out that since the fall of the USSR, Kiev has turned its back on its role in the Soviet Union, toppling statues of leading Marxists. “If you want de–communization, we are happy with that. But don’t stop halfway – we are ready to show what de–communization really looks like,” he went on.
Moments before the speech aired, the Kremlin revealed that Putin had given notice to French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that he intended to sign a decree recognizing the DPR and LPR “in the near future.” According to the official version of events, the two other world leaders “expressed their disappointment with this development,” but emphasized their willingness to maintain diplomatic efforts.
The announcement comes as forces loyal to the two breakaway regions and Kiev’s troops accuse each other of carrying out heavy shelling across the front lines. On Monday from Denis Pushilin and Leonid Pasechnik, the leaders of the DPR and LPR, calling for Moscow's backing for their independence. Putin chaired a televised meeting of the Russian Security Council to consider the request, in which he was urged by top officials to grant both regions recognition.
The two republics declared their autonomy from Kiev's control in 2014, following the events of the Maidan, when violent street protests toppled the democratically elected government in Ukraine. However, until now, neither Russia nor any other UN member nation has recognized them as sovereign nations, and Moscow has backed the Minsk agreements designed to bring a diplomatic solution to the conflict and reconcile the Donbass with Kiev.
Last week, Putin urged the Ukrainian government to begin talks to put an end to the increasingly tense situation. “All Kiev needs to do is sit down at the negotiating table with representatives of the Donbass and agree on political, military, economic, and humanitarian measures to end this conflict. The sooner this happens, the better,” he said on Friday.
Western leaders have been warning for months of a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine, and have said that Moscow could use “false flag” operations against the Donbass territories to justify sending its army in. Russia has repeatedly denied that it has any aggressive intentions, and has called for security agreements that would limit the expansion of NATO, the US-led military bloc, into Eastern Europe.
On Friday, US President Joe Biden announced that he had intelligence that had led him to believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin had decided to attack, and that it would take place in the next several days. The Kremlin has consistently denied it is planning to launch an offensive, branding intelligence reports released by Washington as “hysteria.”
Over the past several weeks, Russian officials have been seeking assurances from the West that it says are designed at ensuring stability on the European continent. Putin said that these had been “rejected” and that “the level of threat for our country is becoming greater and greater.”
In the proposals, sent to Washington and NATO in December, Moscow called for a halt to the US-led military bloc’s expansion, limits on missile placement, and for current bloc members to renounce any military activity on the territory of Ukraine, as well as in other Eastern European, Transcaucasian, and Central Asian states.
Another clause also demanded that Kiev would never be admitted to NATO, which Russia has long stressed is a “red line.”
“Some NATO member states are concerned about Ukraine joining, and we have got signals from European capitals saying ‘What are you worried about, it won't join NATO tomorrow’ – but what about the day after tomorrow? And the day after that?” he stressed.
Putin also confirmed “for the first time in public” that, in 2000, he had floated the idea of Russia joining NATO to then-President Bill Clinton during a visit to Moscow. According to him, the West has since created a vast political gulf to distance itself from Russia and undermined the relationship.
Putin orders Russian military to Donbass Republics as peacekeepers
President Vladimir Putin has ordered the Russian military to “secure the peace” in the newly recognized Donetsk and Lugansk republics, which were formerly considered to be part of Ukraine.
Moscow officially recognized the independence of the two breakaway regions on Monday.
Putin has instructed the Defense Ministry to send peacekeepers into the Donbass, while telling the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to establish diplomatic relations with the states.
The Kremlin’s official move comes shortly after Putin’s lengthy address to the nation on Monday evening. In it, he explaiened the step as a long overdue response to what he described as the “brotherly” Ukrainian nation becoming a “colony” of the West and falling under the rule of a “russophobic” government both hostile to Moscow and denying ethnic Russians and Russian-speakers basic human rights.
Donetsk and Lugansk declared independence from Kiev in 2014, after US-backed nationalists overthrew the democratically elected government in the Maidan coup. However, Moscow has refused to recognize them until now, saying the problem is an internal affair of Ukraine and needs to be resolved according to the Minsk agreements, which established an uneasy armistice in 2015.
Earlier on Monday, however, the Donetsk leader Denis Pushilin and Lugansk leader Leonid Pasechnik formally requested recognition from Moscow once again, as both Donbass regions and Ukraine claimed intensive artillery exchanges along the armistice line.
In his speech, Putin said that the Minsk process had failed and that Ukraine is “not interested in peaceful solutions – they want to start a Blitzkrieg.”