Russian troops enter Russian-backed regions of Ukraine following Putin decree

by mcardinal

Chris Lange, FISM News


Russian forces have now arrived in Ukraine’s Moscow-backed breakaway regions in Donbas, further escalating the crisis in Eastern Europe and laying the groundwork for a potential large-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The military move follows Russian President Vladimir Putin’s televised speech Monday in which he signed a decree granting full recognition of Ukraine’s Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) and announced that he was sending troops into those regions to perform “peacekeeping functions.” Russian parliamentary approval of friendship treaties with the two regions would provide Moscow with the opportunity to build military bases there and adopt a joint defense posture against Ukraine.

Putin’s actions prompted an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council last night. President Biden responded to the provocation with the issuance of an executive order imposing economic sanctions on Ukraine’s DNR and LPR regions but stopped short of placing any penalties directly on Russia, which his administration originally said they would do in response to such an act. 

“This E.O. is distinct from the swift and severe economic measures we are prepared to issue with Allies and partners in response to a further Russian invasion of Ukraine,” read a portion of a White House Fact Sheet. “We are continuing to closely consult with Ukraine and with Allies and partners on next steps and urge Russia to immediately deescalate. 

France and Germany have also agreed to respond with sanctions, and both the U.S. and U.K. say they will announce further measures today, including possible additional economic penalties and export controls.

“We have long anticipated that Russia might take this action, and as you saw, we were ready to respond immediately,” said an unnamed “senior administration official” during a Monday evening phone call, according to a White House readout. The official announced Biden’s sanctions on the DNR and LNR regions, adding “We will take further measures tomorrow to hold Russia accountable for this clear violation of international law and Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as of Russia’s own international commitments.”

The official said Putin’s speech “made clear his true designs…to justify a war,” adding, “Unfortunately, the sequence of events that Secretary Blinken laid out at the U.N. Security Council appears to be proceeding exactly as we predicted.”

Biden’s protracted refusal to impose severe sanctions on Russia thus far has drawn sharp criticism from those who say such inaction projects weakness to Putin.

For Biden to argue that sending troops into eastern #Ukraine was insufficient to trigger broader sanctions against #Putin is not acceptable,” tweeted Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) 

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) pointed out that Russia’s economy is already unstable, inferring that sanctions would be a powerful deterrent if the White House chose to impose them.

“The Russians have a pair of twos while the West has a full house. However, it is the West that is folding,” he tweeted.

A former Obama administration official last week also took a swipe at Biden’s perceived weakness in the face of overt Russian aggression.

“When is the crisis in Ukraine going to end? According to the White House, it’s largely up to Russian President Vladimir Putin,” wrote former Obama administration’s Director of Global Engagement Brett Bruen in an NPR op-ed last week.

During his speech from the Kremlin, Putin offered a lengthy, distorted recounting of history, claiming that Russia “created” Ukraine and lamenting the “madness” of decisions made by previous Soviet leaders, including Joseph Stalin and Vladimir Lenin, that resulted in the breakup of the former Soviet Union and claims of independence by Ukraine and other republics, accusing them of “giving in to nationalists.”

“Why did we have to be so generous, and then give these republics the right to leave?” Putin asked. The communist leader further denied that Ukraine is an independent nation, but rather is “an integral part” of Russia.

Putin had previously described the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union as “the worst geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century.”

Following his speech, Ukraine began reporting an uptick in violence, announcing that two soldiers had been killed and 12 wounded in shellings by pro-Russian separatists in the past 24 hours, with reports of new hostilities emerging Tuesday morning. 

The West now awaits Putin’s next move, which they believe will be a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in a matter of days or even hours.