Russian leader Vladimir Putin said in an extensive speech on Monday that he “plans to sign a decree recognizing the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR),” two Russian separatist regions in Eastern Ukraine’s Donbass territory, the Kremlin press service reported.
Putin revealed the development during phone calls on February 21 with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron meant to diffuse recent political tension between Russia and Ukraine. Putin relayed to Scholz and Macron the results of a meeting earlier on Monday of the Russian Security Council, which “focused on the current situation around Donbass in the context of the Russian lower parliament house’s resolution on the recognition of the Donbass republics,” according to TASS, a Russian state-owned news agency.
Donetsk and Luhansk collectively form Ukraine’s southeast Donbas region, where war between the Ukrainian state and the Russian proxies has been ongoing since 2014. Russia also invaded and colonized Ukraine’s Crimea region that year and remains illegally present there.
“Russian state television showed video of the Russian-backed leaders of separatist territories in eastern Ukraine appealing directly to Mr. Putin to recognize their independence [earlier on February 21],” the New York Times reported. “Russia’s lower house of Parliament passed a resolution making such an appeal to Mr. Putin last week.”
“The Russian president said that he plans to sign a corresponding decree in the near future,” the Kremlin press service said Monday of Putin’s response to the appeal.
“The president of France and the Federal Chancellor of Germany expressed their disappointment with this development. At the same time, they indicated their readiness to continue contacts,” the Kremlin added.
Putin addressed the Russian public in a live, televised speech on Monday evening in which he explained why he chose to formally recognize the DPR and LPR, including reasons such as the alleged nonexistence of a tradition of a sovereign Ukrainian state:
“Ukraine is not just a neighbor to us. … Since ancient times, people from ancient southwestern Russian lands were calling themselves Russians and Orthodox. That was happening until the 17th century when part of these territories rejoined the Russian state,” Putin asserted. “Modern Ukraine was completely created by Russia – to be more exact by Bolshevik communist Russia.”
Putin went on to say, “Ukraine has never had stable traditions of their own statehood. Starting from 1991, they followed the path of the mechanical copying of foreign models that had nothing to do with their history or with the Ukrainian realities.”
The Russian leader also claimed that Ukrainians do not have a real democracy and that “a network of foreign consultants and NGOs” make the decisions in Kyiv, rejecting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as a figure of any influence.
“Do Ukrainians understand that their country has become not just a protectorate, but a colony?” Putin asked.
Putin also attributed the creation of Ukraine to Vladimir Lenin personally and criticized anti-communists for removing monuments in his honor.
“And now, the grateful descendants are demolishing all the statues and monuments of Lenin. They call it ‘decommunization,'” Putin said.
“You want decommunization? Well, we are quite happy with that. But don’t stop halfway. We are ready to show you what actual decommunization would mean for Ukraine.”
The Russian president also supported his decision to recognize pro-Russian separatists as a country by claiming that the Ukrainian government possessed weapons of mass destruction and could pose a nuclear threat to Russia.
“Ukraine really has nuclear technology and carriers to deliver such weapons back from the Soviet times,” Putin claimed. “Getting a nuclear weapon would be much easier for Ukraine than certain other states … especially if they have technological support for abroad. … We cannot help but react to this threat.”
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