The Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation has approved President Vladimir Putin’s request for the use of armed forces abroad. It comes after Putin signed executive orders (EO) to recognize the independence and sovereignty of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), and the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR). This authorization formalises any Russian military deployment and prepares the country’s troops to move into eastern Ukraine. Putin also signed federal laws with DPR head Denis Pushilin, and LPR head Leonid Pasechnik, on ratifying the treaties of friendship, cooperation, and mutual assistance between Russia and the separatist states. On 22 February, the State Duma adopted the federal law, which has been approved by the Federation Council.
The President said: “Russia has done everything to preserve Ukraine’s territorial integrity. All these years, it has persistently and patiently pushed for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2202 of 17 February 2015, which consolidated the Minsk Package of Measures of 12 February 2015, to settle the situation in Donbass. Everything was in vain. Presidents and Rada deputies come and go, but deep down the aggressive and nationalistic regime that seized power in Kyiv remain unchanged. It is entirely a product of the 2014 coup, and those who then embarked on the path of violence, bloodshed, and lawlessness did not recognize then, and do not recognize now, any solution to the Donbas issue other than a military one.”
The order to deploy Russian troops to these two regions finally confirms weeks and months of warnings on Russian aggression and raises possible scenarios for a feared invasion of Ukraine. An estimated 150,000 Russian troops are said to be deployed in and around Ukraine. In response, the Ukraine Foreign Affairs Ministry has requested President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for the severance of diplomatic relations between the two countries. A meeting was held between the Ukraine President and representatives of parliamentary factions and groups of Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada. The officials discussed the situation and ways to respond and resolve the conflict in Donbas. The move has drawn condemnation from several countries around the world, including the US, calling the order a violation of international law and Ukraine’s sovereignty.
Donetsk and Luhansk are two major eastern Ukrainian cities in the Donets basin, Donbas, a mining and industrial region. These two states share a border with Russia and declared independence from Ukraine in 2014 when Russian-backed separatist forces occupied the Donbas region. The recognition of Donetsk and Lugansk as “independent” implies Russia’s conscious unilateral withdrawal from the Minsk agreements. The agreements were signed between Ukraine and the Russian-backed separatists in 2014 and 2015, to settle the situation in southeastern Ukraine. A 12-point ceasefire deal was secured following peace negotiations in the Belarusian capital, Minsk.