Russian President Vladimir Putin formally recognized the independence of two Moscow-backed breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine where Russia has been supporting armed separatists in an eight-year conflict, the Kremlin said Monday.
The move by Putin will likely be seen by the United States and its European allies as a dramatic provocation and possibly part of a pretext to invade Ukraine.
Many experts believe that Moscow’s formal recognition will effectively scuttle a previous ceasefire agreement that some Western allies hoped could provide a route out of the crisis.
Over the past week, the Russian parliament and top officials have asked Putin to formally recognize the Ukrainian regions, which have self-proclaimed themselves the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic. Both have been under the control of Russian-backed separatists since 2014.
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