MOSCOW: Russia on Tuesday called on other countries to “follow the lead” of recognizing the separatist republic in eastern Ukraine, a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin did so and ordered Russian troops to be sent there as “peacekeepers”.
“Russia calls on other states to follow its example,” Moscow’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
It added that Moscow’s recognition of the rebels — condemned by the West — was “not easy, but the only possible step”.
Putin’s decision to recognise the rebels, the foreign ministry said, was “dictated primarily by humanitarian considerations” and “intended to serve as a guarantee for peaceful life” in the Donetsk and Lugansk rebel republics.
Putin announced his decision to recognise the separatist territories after an hour-long national address late on Monday.
Hours later, he ordered Russian troops to send troops to eastern Ukraine as “peacekeepers.”
The recognition effectively obscures the fragile peace process mediating the conflict in eastern Ukraine, the Minsk agreement.
But Moscow said in a statement that Kiev never intended to respect the Minsk agreement.
“In fact, Kyiv withdrew from the Minsk agreements a long time ago, openly sabotaging their implementation,” the statement said.
Russia’s parliament is expected to rubber stamp Putin’s friendship agreements with the separatist republics Tuesday.
Putin has acknowledged the rebels despite repeated warnings from the West against him and threats of Moscow responding with massive sanctions.