The Kremlin announced Monday that Russia will recognize the independence of two separatist-held regions in eastern Ukraine, a move that has been discouraged by Western leaders.
Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron that he intends to sign the order soon, recognizing what are known as the Luhansk People's Republic and the Donetsk People's Republic, according to a statement.
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Both leaders "expressed disappointment" over the decision, a statement obtained by AFP read.
The decision could serve as a pretext for war.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week that such recognition would violate Russia's "commitments under the Minsk agreements" that draw out a process for political, social, and economic integration of those regions.
"Enactment of this resolution would further undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, constitute a gross violation of international law, call into further question Russia’s stated commitment to continue to engage in diplomacy to achieve a peaceful resolution of this crisis, and necessitate a swift and firm response from the United States in full coordination with our Allies and partners," Blinken said.
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The news out of the Kremlin comes as the entire world waits to see if Putin gives the order to invade Ukraine, though President Joe Biden has said he thinks the Russian leader has already made the choice for a military incursion. Russia has amassed anywhere between 169,000 and 190,000 troops surrounding Ukraine, according to U.S. officials, and Putin has repeatedly told Western countries his demand that NATO not expand east toward Russia.
The U.S. and many other Western countries have tried to encourage Russia to back down through diplomatic efforts, though the effectiveness of these efforts remains unknown.