While the United Nations Security Council holds an emergency public meeting to discuss Russia’s decision, Al Jazeera obtained exclusive photos showing Russian military convoys entering the Donetsk and Lugansk regions (eastern Ukraine) after Moscow recognized them as separate republics from Ukraine.
According to a decree issued early Tuesday by the Kremlin, Russian President Vladimir Putin has asked the Defense Ministry to reach an agreement with Donetsk and Luhansk on what would allow Russia to enter to ensure peace in the two cities.
Russian military convoys crossed the border into Donetsk and Lugansk, according to an Al-Jazeera correspondent, and Russian media reported that two military convoys were heading to the two regions.
According to the reporter, Russia’s agreement with Donetsk and Luhansk is for ten years, with an automatic extension.
Putin also asked the Foreign Ministry to begin consultations with the « Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk » to establish diplomatic relations, according to the Kremlin.
According to an Al-Jazeera correspondent in Moscow, Russia has pledged to ensure the work of financial and banking institutions in accordance with the Donetsk and Lugansk agreements.
According to the Russian agreement with them, all financial transactions will be conducted in Russian rubles.
recognition of independence
Putin announced his country’s recognition of the separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk’s independence on Monday evening, signing two decrees recognizing Russia’s two republics and requesting that the Russian parliament recognize the decision immediately.
Putin’s dispatch of peacekeeping forces to Donetsk and Luhansk, on the other hand, is an outright aggression against Ukraine and a violation of its territorial integrity and sovereignty, according to Josep Borrell, the European Union’s High Commissioner for Foreign and Security Policy.
According to Borrell, the UN Security Council should meet as soon as possible to address the consequences of the recent events in Ukraine.
According to the New York Times, Russian soldiers without insignia or military ranks, as well as dozens of military vehicles, are stationed 60 kilometers from Ukraine’s border.
Putin wants the whole of Ukraine, according to a senior European official quoted in the British newspaper The Guardian, and the recognition could be just the beginning of a larger escalation.
Putin’s recognition of Donetsk and Luhansk, according to Axios, is likely the first step in a large-scale military operation.
violation of sovereignty
President Vladimir Zelensky of Ukraine, for one, has stated that Russia’s recognition of « rebels » is a violation of his country’s sovereignty.
Kiev is waiting for decisive and clear steps of support from its partners, Zelensky said in a televised address to the Ukrainian people. He went on to say that his country is in favor of a peaceful and diplomatic solution, emphasizing that Ukraine’s international borders will remain intact.
Zelensky also called for an emergency meeting of members of the Normandy format to discuss Russia’s latest actions.
Preparations for the invasion
For security reasons, the US announced on Monday that it would transfer all of its remaining diplomats in Ukraine to Poland, just hours after Putin recognized two separatist republics in eastern Ukraine and gave his forces orders to enter them.
« For security reasons, Foreign Ministry employees who are currently in Lviv will spend this night in Poland, » Foreign Minister Anthony Blinken said in a statement.
This move comes less than a week after the US embassy in Kiev was relocated to Lviv due to the rapid escalation of tensions, with the Russian army massing forces on Ukraine’s border.
According to ABC, Washington is urging Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to flee to Lviv (western Ukraine) for his own safety.
Moscow is still preparing to invade Ukraine in the coming hours or days, according to a US administration official quoted by the network.
According to NBC, the Ukrainian government has moved important security technologies and the military command out of Kiev in preparation for a Russian attack, according to sources.
According to CNN, Deputy National Security Adviser John Viner stated that the US administration continues to believe that Russia may take military action in Ukraine at any time based on the latest intelligence.
All signs on the ground, including what the Kremlin revealed, indicate that Russia is continuing its military action rather than pursuing diplomacy, according to Viner, who also stated that Washington is prepared to respond to Moscow’s announcement.
A US official told CNN that a meeting between US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin is unlikely.
The United Nations Security Council is holding an emergency public meeting at the request of its Western members to discuss Russia’s decision to recognize the independence of two separatist regions in eastern Ukraine.
The majority of UN Security Council member states (15 countries) condemned Putin’s decision, and the council’s meeting became a platform for condemning Moscow and urging it to return to the negotiating table in order to find a peaceful solution to the crisis.
President Putin’s claim that the troops he ordered into eastern Ukraine were for peacekeeping was dismissed by US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas Greenfield as « nonsense. »
« We know what they are, » the ambassador said during the emergency meeting of the Security Council to discuss the Ukraine crisis, and her comments came after the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs and Peacekeeping Rosemary DiCarlo expressed her « regret » about the deployment of Russian soldiers in the two breakaway republics.
The council must be united in urging Russia to « de-escalate and respect its commitments, » according to British Ambassador Barbara Woodward.
She went on to say, « Russia has pushed us to the brink of disaster. We urge Russia to take a step back, » said Kenyan Ambassador Martin Kimani, who called Russia’s action a « violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity. » »
Russia’s delegate to the UN Security Council, on the other hand, stated that international positions suggest that Russia’s recognition of Donetsk and Luhansk is a surprising step, which is not the case.
The Russian delegate added that the Donetsk and Lugansk republics declared their independence in 2015, but we recognized them only today.
He said that the situation in eastern Ukraine has worsened, and we have witnessed the bombing of residential areas in Donetsk and Luhansk, noting that about 60 thousand people fled from Donbas into Russia due to the Ukrainian bombing.
He stressed that it is Russia’s duty to protect Russian civilians in Ukraine, and that is more important than threats from Western countries.
For his part, the Ukrainian delegate to the Security Council said that they called for this emergency meeting to draw attention to the illegal decision of the Russian President.
He added that Ukraine’s borders were and will remain unchanged regardless of the steps announced by Russia.
« Today, the Kremlin copied and pasted the Georgia Decree of 2008 word for word, » the Ukrainian delegate said.
« There is absolutely no creativity, the Kremlin’s copy machine is working very well, » he added sarcastically.
Russia, which has been in charge of the Security Council’s rotating presidency since the beginning of February, wanted to hold a closed session, but the US objected.