On Monday, the Russian Security Council called on President Vladimir Putin to recognize the independence of two Russian-backed separatist regions in eastern Ukraine, in a move that could give him a pretext to invade Ukraine, especially after Moscow’s allegations that Kiev’s forces are attacking those regions.
Putin is likely to make a decision later Monday.
Ukrainian officials on Monday denied the attacks, saying the allegations were Russian disinformation. Western officials repeatedly warned that Moscow was making a reason for the invasion.
All members of Putin’s hardline Security Council supported recognition of two regions that call themselves the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic. About 800,000 Russians live in the two regions.
Putin called the extraordinary meeting of the Security Council after accusing Ukraine of committing “genocide” in the regions last week, without providing evidence.
The decision violates the 2015 Minsk Peace Agreement brokered by France and Germany, which was intended to return the two regions to Kiev’s control.
One by one, Security Council officials urged Putin to recognize the regions, arguing that Kiev was trying to “freeze” the conflict in eastern Ukraine, preventing a solution and letting Russia cover the costs of the regions.
Putin said it was clear that Ukraine had no intention of implementing the Minsk agreement, which requires Kiev to pass laws granting the regions autonomy.
Kiev officials say the laws will allow Moscow to use the breakaway regions as leverage over Ukraine’s foreign policy and veto its pro-Western stance.
Putin said that Russia had done everything to resolve the situation peacefully, but that the Ukrainian authorities had “carried out punitive military operations in these territories” in the past and were doing so again.
Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev said Moscow should protect Russians living in the regions, after Moscow began handing out Russian passports to Ukrainians living there in recent years.
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