Putin to Decide on Request from Ukraine Separatists to Recognize Donbas

Ceasefire violations have spiked in recent days, prompting the separatists to ask Moscow for recognition

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was considering a request from the separatists in eastern Ukraine to recognize the two breakaway republics in the Donbas region, known as the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR).

Putin convened a meeting of Russia’s Security Council to discuss the issue and said he would make a decision today. “I have heard your opinions. A decision will be made today,” he said during the meeting, according to RT.

Some of Russia’s top officials argued in favor of the recognition, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. “I see no other way,” Lavrov said. “As for offering the West two or three days to come to its senses, it is a matter of taste, of course, but it will certainly not change its position.”

The separatists made the request for recognition amid a spike of violence in eastern Ukraine. On February 19th, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) recorded 591 ceasefire violations in the Donetsk region and 975 ceasefire violations in the Luhansk region.

Both sides blame the other for the recent escalations. As the US has been warning that Russia is preparing to invade Ukraine, the separatists have been warning that Kyiv was planning an offensive in the Donbas.

The US continues to accuse Russia of plotting false flags in the region as a pretext to invade Ukraine. On the other side, Moscow and the separatists have said Ukraine and its Western backers are planning provocations to justify escalations in the Donbas.

Officials from Russia’s Southern Military District said Monday that they “eliminated” five “saboteurs” that entered Russian territory from Ukraine. The head of Russia’s FSB later said one Ukrainian was captured. For their part, Ukraine denied the allegations, dismissing it as fake news.

With so much conflicting information, it’s tough to know what’s happening on the ground in eastern Ukraine. If Putin chooses to recognize the DPR and LPR, it doesn’t necessarily mean war, but it would mean Moscow’s withdrawal from the Minsk agreements, which established the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine.

Under the Minsk agreements, Ukraine agreed to cede autonomy to the DPR and LPR. Russia has grown frustrated that Kyiv hasn’t fulfilled its end of the agreement, but in recent weeks, Putin and other Russian officials have reaffirmed their commitment to the Minsk accords.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of Antiwar.com, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.