MOSCOW, February 22. /TASS/. Russia has recognized the independence of the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) and concluded with them agreements on friendship, cooperation and assistance. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed corresponding documents on Monday night.
Earlier, addressing the nation, the Russian head of state demanded that Ukraine immediately halt all hostilities in Donbass, stressing that otherwise "the Ukrainian ruling regime will be wholly and entirely responsible for the possible continuation of the bloodshed," warning that in the absence of constructive answers by the West to proposals on security guarantees, Moscow will have the full right to "undertake retaliatory measures."
TASS gathered main points of the 55-minute-long president’s address and preceding events.
The recognition of Donbass
Putin said that the recognition of DPR’s and LPR’s sovereignty was a "long-pending decision" and asked the parliament to support it as well as to ratify the agreements on friendship and mutual assistance with both republics.
""And we demand that those who have seized and are retaining power in Kiev immediately halt all hostilities. Otherwise, the Ukrainian ruling regime will be wholly and entirely responsible for the possible continuation of the bloodshed," the Russian president warned.
According to him, "Russia has done everything to preserve Ukraine’s territorial integrity," even when fighting for the implementation of the Minsk Accords but in vain.
Ukraine and NATO
Moscow has all grounds to presume that Ukraine’s membership in NATO is just a matter of time, the Russian leader noted. "I will explain, that the US strategic planning documents […] stipulate an option of the so-called preemptive strike on enemy’s missile systems. And we know who the main enemy for the US and NATO is. It is Russia. NATO documents officially, straightforwardly declare Russia as the main threat for Euro-Atlantic security. And Ukraine will serve as a foothold for such a strike," he said.
In December, Russia put forth an initiative of concluding legally binding documents on mutual security guarantees with the US and NATO. Moscow expected that NATO won’t expand eastward and won’t admit Ukraine into its ranks, as well as will introduce restrictions on the deployment of serious offensive weapons on its territory. As the Russian president emphasized, those proposals were essentially left without an answer and under these conditions Russia "has the full right to undertake retaliatory measures in order to ensure its own security." "This is precisely how we will proceed."
Russia itself will never join NATO - in 2000, then US president Bill Clinton was "very reserved" when Putin "asked him how America would react to the idea of admitting Russia to NATO." This is due to the fact that the US does not need "such a big independent country like Russia" and this is "the source of American traditional policy on the Russian track," Putin asserted.
The criticism of Ukraine
The main part of the president’s address was dedicated to the history of the creation of modern Ukraine and the criticism of the Kiev regime. Putin reiterated that the modern Ukraine was "wholly and entirely created by <...> the Bolshevik, Communist Russia," even at the expense of historical Russian territories. "Now grateful descendants have demolished monuments to Lenin in Ukraine. This is what they call de-communization. Do you want de-communization? Well, this quite suits us. But you must not stop halfway. We are ready to show you what genuine de-communization means for Ukraine,"
After the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia has always cooperated with Ukraine "openly, honestly and with respect for its interests," but in Kiev "parasitism began to prevail over partnership," the Russian president stated. "Corruption, which is, undoubtedly, a challenge and a problem for many countries, including Russia, acquired some special nature in Ukraine. It literally permeated and eroded Ukrainian statehood, the entire system and all the branches of power," the Russian leader asserted.
Ukraine’s military strategy essentially involves the preparation of military actions against Russia while Kiev’s recent threat to develop its own nuclear weapons is not just an act, Moscow cannot ignore this threat, the president emphasized.
Security Council's support
Earlier on Monday, LPR and DPR Heads Leonid Pasechnik and Denis Pushilin addressed Putin with an appeal to recognize the republics’ sovereignty. Following this, a session of the Security Council was held in the Kremlin with its members supporting this decision.
That said, Secretary of the Security Council Nikolay Patrushev proposed to give the West the last chance to make Kiev implement the agreements. His idea was supported by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and Director of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Sergey Naryshkin.
Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev urged to recognize the independence of the republics within the borders "before the occupation by Ukraine’s armed forces" that is, within the borders of the Donetsk and Lugansk Regions.
Talks before the recognition
As reported on Monday morning, Putin and his US counterpart Joe Biden could meet in the near future with the mediation by French President Emmanuel Macron who spoke twice with Putin on Sunday evening. It is not clear whether a new Russian-US summit is possible under the new conditions.
On Monday night, Putin held phone talks with Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz telling them about his plans to sign a document on recognizing the Donbass republics. According to the Kremlin, his interlocutors were disappointed by this turn of events yet indicated readiness to continue contacts.