Russia Ukraine conflict

Russia’s Putin recognizes Ukraine rebel territories as independent

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Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized the independence of eastern Ukraine’s separatist republics Monday, with the Kremlin saying that he had informed the French and German leaders of his decision.

“In the near future, the president plans to sign the order,” the Kremlin said, in a statement published before an anticipated national address from Putin.

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It added that French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had “expressed disappointment” over the decision in phone calls with Putin.

“At the same time, they indicated their readiness to continue contacts,” the Kremlin said.

France and Germany are mediators in the conflict between Kyiv and pro-Russia rebels in eastern Ukraine.

The West has repeatedly warned Russia not to recognize the separatists, a move that effectively buries a fragile peace process in the region.

Earlier on Monday, the rebel leaders of eastern Ukraine’s separatist Donetsk and Lugansk territories had appealed to Putin to recognize them as independent.

The Kremlin said the rebels had made the appeal “in connection with military aggression carried out by the Ukrainian authorities and the mass shelling of the territory of Donbas, which leads to suffering in the civilian population.”

Also on Monday, the Russian leader held an unscheduled Kremlin national security meeting on Monday, in which his top officials made impassioned speeches to him in favor of recognizing the separatists.

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