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Russia invades Ukraine, U.S others react



Putin orders Russian forces to Ukraine rebel regions

Vladimir Putin has ordered Russian troops to “maintain peace” in two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine, hours after the Russian president recognised Donetsk and Luhansk as independent entities..

In two official decrees, Putin on Monday instructed the country’s defence ministry to assume “the function of maintaining peace” in the eastern regions.

In an earlier televised address, Putin said he had deemed “it necessary to make a decision that should have been made a long time ago – to immediately recognise the independence and sovereignty of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic”.

The West has repeatedly warned Russia not to recognise the separatist regions in Donetsk and Luhansk – a move that effectively buries a fragile peace process in the region.

Putin’s announcement paved the way for Russia to openly send troops and weapons to the long-running conflict pitting Ukrainian forces against Moscow-backed rebels.

US backs urgent UN Security Council meeting on Ukraine
The United States said it supports Ukraine’s call for an urgent UN Security Council meeting, calling Russia’s recognition of two Ukrainian breakaway regions an “unprovoked violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

“The Security Council must demand that Russia respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, a UN Member State,” US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said in a statement.

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Russia acquires right to build military bases in eastern Ukraine: Agreement
Russia has acquired the right to build military bases in Ukraine’s two breakaway regions under new agreements with their separatist leaders, according to a copy of an agreement signed by Putin published on Monday.

Russia and the breakaway regions also plan to sign separate agreements on military cooperation and protection of borders, according to draft laws that Russia’s State Duma lower house of parliament will consider on Tuesday.

Former US ambassador to Ukraine urges ‘serious’ sanctions on Moscow
John Herbst called Russia’s recognition of the independence of two Ukrainian breakaway region a “major escalation”, urging the Biden administration to start imposing serious sanctions on Moscow.

“We’re gonna have to put down at least one serious sanction in response,” Herbst, who now serves as senior director of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center, told Al Jazeera. “If we’re not, we’re repeating the exact same mistake we made in Crimea eight years ago.”

He said imposing sanctions on at least one large Russian bank or the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, for example, would be appropriate now.

US, France and Germany discuss coordinated response to Russia
In a phone call on Monday, the leaders of the US, France and Germany discussed how they “will continue to coordinate their response on next steps” against Russia.

“The leaders strongly condemned President Putin’s decision to recognize the so-called DNR and LNR regions of Ukraine as ‘independent’,” the White House said in a statement.

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UN chief says Russia violating Ukraine’s sovereignty: Spokesman
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres believes Russia has violated the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine by recognising Donetsk and Luhansk as independent entities, a spokesman said.

“The United Nations, in line with the relevant General Assembly resolutions, remains fully supportive of the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine, within its internationally recognized borders,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.

Biden ‘strongly’ condemns Russia’s recognition of Ukrainian regions
During a phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy, US President Joe Biden “strongly condemned” Russia’s decision to recognise the two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine as independent, the White House said.

French president calls for emergency UN Security Council meeting
“By recognising the separatist regions in eastern Ukraine, Russia is violating its commitments and undermining Ukraine’s sovereignty. I condemn this decision,” French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted.

“I have asked for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council and European sanctions.”

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