Russian President Vladimir Putin announced in a combative, hourlong address on Monday that he will recognize two breakaway “republics” in eastern Ukraine as independent.
The latest: In a decree recognizing the independence of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) and the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR), Putin ordered the Russian military to conduct “peacekeeping operations” in the occupied Ukrainian territories.
The big picture: The separatists don’t hold all of the territory they claim so recognition could swiftly evolve into war unless Russia limits its operations to the separatist-held areas.
- Analysts have also warned that Moscow could also use any attacks on its troops in eastern Ukraine — real or fabricated — as pretext for a broader war.
- The separatists declared independence in 2014 and have waged a low-scale war against Ukrainian forces since then, with military backing from Moscow.
- The fighting has escalated since Thursday, with Kyiv accusing the separatists of persistent shelling across the line of contact.
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