Russian President Vladimir Putin has told foreign leaders that Moscow is likely to officially recognize the sovereignty of the Donetsk (DPR) and Lugansk (LPR) People’s Republics, two states that de facto broke away from Ukraine in 2014.
In a statement released on Monday, the Kremlin revealed that Putin had notified French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that he intends to sign a decree recognizing the two separatist Donbass regions.
The announcement follows Monday’s requests by Denis Pushilin and Leonid Pasechnik, the leaders of the DPR and LPR, and a televised meeting of the Russian Security Council.
The two republics split from Kiev’s control in 2014, following the events of the Maidan, when violent street protests toppled the democratically elected government in Ukraine. This led to the Donbass war, which was formally ended in September 2014 by the Minsk Protocol, but has simmered since in a semi-frozen state.
According to the deal signed in Minsk, and a second follow-up text in 2015, Ukraine was required to de-centralize its government and give a special status to Donetsk and Lugansk. Much to Moscow’s frustration, Kiev has failed to implement this part of the agreement.
Despite repeated requests from the Donbass republics to recognize the two regions as independent, Putin had, until now, refused to do so. Instead, Moscow had continued to pressure Ukraine to adhere to its commitments signed in Minsk.
The Russian President’s decision to declare the independence of the DPR and LPR comes as tensions remain high on the border with Ukraine. Russia stands accused of placing more than 100,000 troops on the frontier, with some Western officials alleging that it plans to invade its western neighbor. The Kremlin has repeatedly refuted these suggestions.
Last week, lawmakers in Russia’s State Duma backed a motion calling on the Kremlin to recognize the sovereignty of the DPR and LPR. The proposal, introduced by the Communist Party, was supported by 351 MPs, with just 16 legislators opposing the move