Wide western condemnation of Russia’s decision to recognise the separation of Luhansk and Donetsk republics in eastern Ukraine

Sami Hegazi
5 Min Read

Western nations and others condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to recognise Russian-backed Donetsk and Luhansk — separatists that claim to be independent Ukraine — with the US and its allies vowing to quickly impose new sanctions against Moscow.

Western reactions to the Russian decision began with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemning the Russian decision as “a flagrant violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

In a press conference, Johnson said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recognition of the independence of the pro-Russian separatists was “a repudiation of the Minsk agreements” that were signed in 2015 to bring peace to Ukraine.

Johnson noted that Putin has already begun the plan to invade Ukraine, adding that the “intelligence we received shows that Russia is planning an invasion and that Putin’s plan has already begun.”

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Kiev is calling on Russia to resolve the issue and tensions in eastern Ukraine through dialogue in any form.

“We understand all the risks, and we urge Russia — not for the first time — to resolve this issue through dialogue and sit at the negotiating table,” Zelensky said on Tuesday.

“We are ready to sit in all places [in any form for dialogue] … Russia knows that… We received a reply and the answer came yesterday [Monday], and today [Tuesday] we are announcing it to the public… Ukraine should respond to this by protecting its sovereignty and state.”

Zelensky expressed his belief that there would be no military escalation by Russia.

“We believe that there will be no war against Ukraine, no large-scale escalation by Russia, and if that happens, we will apply martial law,” Zelensky said.

In separate tweets, the EU, through European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, denounced the Russian move as a “flagrant violation of international law” and promised a “firm” response to the situation.

Also via Twitter, EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell said that “the recognition of the two separatist regions in Ukraine is a flagrant violation of international law, the territorial integrity of Ukraine, and the Minsk agreements.”

“The EU and its partners will act with unity, firmness, and determination in solidarity with Ukraine.”

In this context, US Permanent Representative to the United Nations Linda Thomas Greenfield attacked the Russian president, considering that his declaration of independence for the two provinces is simply a means of finding a pretext to launch a “wider invasion.”

She pointed out that this step has consequences that go beyond the Ukrainian borders and affect the entirety of Europe and the world.

“Putin wants to take the world back in time, to the pre-United Nations era, to a time when empires ruled the world. But the world has moved forward. The United Nations was founded on the principle of decolonisation, not re-colonisation,” she said.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), in a statement, also said that the “recognition of the separatist regions of Ukraine is a flagrant violation of international law and the territorial integrity of Ukraine and the Minsk Conventions.”

NATO also accused Moscow of “continuing to inflame the conflict in eastern Ukraine” by providing financial and military support to the separatists, adding that it was trying to provide an argument to invade Ukraine again.

For her part, German Minister of Foreign Affairs Annalena Baerbock considered Putin’s recognition of the separatist republics in eastern Ukraine “a deliberate cancellation of years of efforts in the Normandy formula and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).”

She stressed that “her country will respond to this violation of international law and coordinate with partners.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed two decrees on Monday night calling for Russia’s recognition of the independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics from Ukraine.

This came after a meeting held by Putin with the members of the Russian Security Council against the backdrop of the worsening security situation in the Donbas region — where the two republics are located — and reports of Ukrainian bombing operations against the cities and towns of Donetsk and Lugansk.

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