Russia Recognised DPR, LPR to Avoid More Casualties Due to Escalation of Situation by Kiev - MFA
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill to recognise the independence of the two Donbass republics citing continuing shelling of the two entities by Ukraine's armed forces and Kiev's systematic failure to uphold its part of the Minsk agreements. The latter were signed in 2015 to end the conflict in Donbass.
Moscow made the decision to recognise the independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics (DPR and LPR) because the escalation of the situation in the Donbass region by Ukraine could lead to numerous casualties, Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko has stated.
"We ended up on the verge of the resumption of large-scale hostilities that threatened the loss of thousands of human lives", Rudenko said.
He stressed that both the DPR and LPR had sustained mass shelling from Kiev's forces, which resulted in the deaths of locals and destruction of key infrastructure, including water and gas supply systems. Rudenko added that the ratification of the Russian agreements with the DPR and LPR would ensure the safety of the two republics' citizens.
The deputy minister elaborated that these agreements also allow the parties to cooperate with each other and provide assistance in a number of areas, including the fight against terrorism and violent extremism.
Recognition of Donbass Republics
Following several days of the uninterrupted shelling of cities in the DPR and LPR, including with mortars prohibited by the Minsk agreements, by Kiev, the Russian Parliament, the State Duma, voted in favour of asking President Vladimir Putin to recognise the independence of the two republics. This request was later echoed by the DPR and LPR as well.
Russia abstained from the move, despite calls to do so in 2014, when the two republics declared their independence from Ukraine following a Western-backed coup in Kiev fearing that the rights of the predominantly Russian-speaking population would be infringed upon by the new nationalist government. Moscow decided not to recognise them at the time to make way for the Minsk agreements, brokered by Russia, Germany, and France and which included a roadmap for restoring peace and reintegrating Donbass into Ukraine.
Yet, over the seven years since their signing, Kiev has been systematically failing to live up to its responsibilities under the Minsk agreements and even directly violated them. Ukrainian authorities failed to carry out constitutional reform that would install decentralised governance and give Donbass a special status with broad autonomy, but introduced a law that would prevent fighters from the DPR and LPR from receiving amnesty after the hostilities are over - in direct violation of the Minsk agreements.
Russian President Vladimir Putin pointed out Kiev's failure to meet the provisions of the Minsk agreements and its continuing attacks on the Donbass region, as he announced the decision to recognise the DPR and LPR on 21 February. He also ordered to sign friendship treaties with them, which include provisions for collective defence and allow the deployment of a Russian peacekeeping contingent in the DPR and LPR.
The decision was harshly condemned by Ukraine, as well as the EU, NATO, the US, and numerous European countries, which vowed to slap Russia with new sanctions. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that he is considering cutting diplomatic ties with Russia, but said he doesn't expect a major war to erupt in Ukraine. Both the West and Kiev said they still had hopes of resolving the crisis in Ukraine via diplomatic means. The Kremlin also expressed readiness for talks, while warning Kiev against cutting diplomatic ties.
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