President Putin unilaterally declared on Monday that two pieces of eastern Ukraine should be considered independent states in a dramatic escalation that many fear could lead to all-out war.
In a letter to his nation, the Russian president said that he is formal recognition The pro-Kremlin regions of Luhansk and Donetsk – which stretch over 6,500 miles – are no longer part of Ukraine.
The announcement came after a startlingly bizarre meeting of the Russian Security Council, in which Putin emerged like a gang leader testing his followers, as officials spoke, one by one, in favor of recognizing the self-proclaimed republics.
It was another strange sight on a day when the drums of war were deafening. This aggressive and completely unwarranted regional claim came after a series of apparently fake operations in which the Russians tried to blame Ukrainian forces for a number of attacks.
The Russian military claimed that five alleged “saboteurs” were assassinated early Monday after crossing the border into Russia from Ukraine.
The report roughly mirrors what the Biden administration has warned might be “false flags” or raises points that Russia will respond to as a pretext for its invasion.
“As a result of the clashes, five people who violated the Russian border were killed by a group of saboteurs,” the Russian military said in a statement. No Russians were killed in the alleged border violation. Russia also said Ukraine had destroyed a border post used by the Federal Security Service (FSB) in early morning bombing.
Russia has also claimed in recent days that Ukrainian forces are carrying out attacks on Luhansk and Donetsk.
Ukraine has denied any such incursion or attacks. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba took to Twitter on Monday to reject allegations in big red that he denied an attack on Donetsk or Luhansk, that he sent saboteurs across the Russian border, or that he bombed Russian territory or border crossings.
After the latest round of supposed Ukrainian aggression, the leaders of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics published video appeals demanding Putin to recognize their independence, as they claimed that Ukrainian forces were preparing to attack.
Despite a flurry of last-minute diplomacy — including talk of a summit between Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin — it looks like hell will soon break down in Ukraine.
On Monday, Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, warned that Russia’s impending attack on Ukraine would be “extremely violent” and could actually begin at any moment.
“We think that any military operation of this scale and scale and scale of what we think the Russians are planning would be very violent,” he told NBC Today on a frenetic episode of President’s Day morning television. “It will cost the lives of Ukrainians and Russians, civilians and military alike.”
He told the network that new intelligence gathered in recent days indicates “a greater form of brutality because this would not be just a conventional war between two armies.” He went on to say that Russia would target the Ukrainian people to “repress, crush and harm them”.
He then appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America, telling them that “all indications are that President Putin and the Russians are moving forward with a plan to carry out a major military invasion of Ukraine.” That plan was reinforced over the weekend, as Russian military equipment painted in ominous white “Z” letters rolled toward strategic points along the Ukrainian border. “We have seen in the past 24 hours additional movements of Russian units to the border with no other good explanation other than that they are in a position to attack.”
Over the weekend, French President Emmanuel Macron invited Biden and Putin to a summit, which Biden indicated he would attend on the condition that Russia does not invade Ukraine, but the Kremlin called reports of any such meeting “premature.”
Sullivan also reiterated that any attack on Ukraine would be met with “the full force of US and allied forces,” unconfirmed news reports of ceasefire violations along the border continue unabated. A video posted on Twitter showed a gas station burning on the front line in eastern Ukraine as civilians fled due to gunfire.
The European Union, which will eventually feel the impact of war directly, has approved a $1.36 billion emergency package to support Ukraine through loans, according to a statement from the EU Council on Monday. It intends to provide rapid support in the event of acute crises and to strengthen the resilience of Ukraine. “
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