Putin Orders Russian Troops Into Eastern Ukraine

'Peacekeepers' will be sent to 2 territories the Kremlin recognized as states Monday
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 21, 2022 4:07 PM CST
Putin Orders Russian Troops Into Eastern Ukraine
People wave Russian national flags to celebrate in the center of Donetsk, the territory controlled by pro-Russian militants, eastern Ukraine, late Monday, Feb. 21, 2022. I   (AP Photo/Alexei Alexandrov)

(Newser) – Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops into eastern Ukraine early Tuesday local time—hours after he declared that Moscow was recognizing two breakaway territories in the country's east as independent states. Putin ordered Russia's defense ministry to send troops to Luhansk and Donetsk for "peacekeeping operations," the Guardian reports. It's not clear when Russian troops will enter the two territories, which declared themselves "people's republics" in 2014 but were not recognized by any country until Putin's move Monday, reports the AP.

It's also unclear whether the Russian troops will remain in areas held by Russian-backed separatists or whether they will move into parts of the territories claimed by rebels but still under the control of the Ukrainian government, the New York Times reports. In a speech recognizing the two republics, Putin said Ukraine is a historic part of Russia that "never had a tradition of genuine statehood," Al Jazeera reports. "Modern-day Ukraine was in full and in whole created by Russia, Bolshevik, Communist Russia," he said.

In his speech, Putin slammed the US and NATO for trying to "blackmail" his country. "Russia has every right to take retaliatory measures to ensure its own security," he said. "That is exactly what we will do." After Putin announced the recognition of the two breakaway regions, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Biden plans to introduce new sanctions related to the territories, which will be separate from the sanctions to come in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, reports Reuters. (Read more Ukraine stories.)

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