June 18, 2024


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Putin intends to recognize the independence of the rebel regions of Ukraine

Putin intends to recognize the independence of the rebel regions of Ukraine

  • Ukraine and the West on alert, Russia creates a pretext to invade Macron proposes a summit between Biden and Putin
  • White House says summit is possible only if Russia doesn’t invade
  • Moscow says Ukrainian armored vehicles tried to enter Russia
  • Kiev calls Russian allegations ‘fake news’

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin told the leaders of France and Germany on Monday that he plans to sign a decree recognizing the breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine as independent entities soon, the Kremlin said.

The Kremlin said in a statement to the phone calls that the French and German leaders expressed their disappointment after hearing the decision. Moscow’s move would also likely torpedo a last-minute attempt to hold a summit to prevent Russia from invading Ukraine.

Separately, Moscow said that Ukrainian military saboteurs tried to enter Russian territory in armed vehicles, killing five people, a charge Kiev denied as “fake news”.

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Both developments fit into a pattern that Western governments have repeatedly predicted, which accuse Russia of preparing to concoct a pretext to invade Ukraine by blaming Kiev for the attacks and relying on pleas for help from separatist proxies.

Moscow’s recognition of the independence of the rebel areas will narrow diplomatic options to avoid war, as it is an outright rejection of the seven-year ceasefire brokered by France and Germany, which has been touted as a framework for future negotiations on the broader crisis.

Hours earlier, French President Emmanuel Macron had given hope for a diplomatic solution, saying that Putin and Biden had agreed in principle to meet.

But the Kremlin said there were no concrete plans to hold a summit. The White House said Biden agreed to meet “in principle” but only “if there was no invasion.”

In Washington, President Joe Biden recalled his top security advisers. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are seen entering the White House on President’s Day holiday.

Washington says Russia has amassed a force of 169,190,000 troops in the region, including pro-Russian rebels in the breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine, and could invade within days. Recognition of rebel-held areas could provide an excuse for Russian forces to cross the border into those areas.

Russia denies any plan to attack its neighbor but has threatened unspecified “military-technical” action unless it gets comprehensive security guarantees, including a pledge that Ukraine will never join NATO.

European financial markets tumbled on signs of growing confrontation, after rising briefly amid a glimmer of hope that the summit might provide a path out of Europe’s biggest military crisis in decades. Oil prices – Russia’s main export – rose, while Russian stocks and the ruble fell.

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Reporting by Reuters offices. Writing by Kevin Levy, Peter Graf and Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Hugh Lawson

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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