World leaders condemned on Tuesday Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recognition of the two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine as independent republics.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres believed that Russia has violated the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine by recognizing the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent entities.
United Nations spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said in a statement that the UN, in line with the relevant General Assembly resolutions, remains fully supportive of the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.
United States President Joe Biden said he “strongly condemned” Russia’s decision while French President Emmanuel Macron claimed that Russia is violating its commitments, undermining Ukraine’s sovereignty.
Jens Stoltenberg, secretary-general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), also denounced Putin’s move of recognizing the rebel-held areas in east Ukraine, saying it violated international agreements that Moscow had signed.
“I condemn Russia’s decision to extend recognition to the self-proclaimed ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ and ‘Luhansk People’s Republic’. This further undermines Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, erodes efforts towards a resolution of the conflict, and violates the Minsk Agreements, to which Russia is a party. We urge Moscow to stop fuelling conflict and choose diplomacy,” Stoltenberg said in a statement.
For his part, United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Putin’s move was “plainly in breach of international law” and was a “flagrant violation of the sovereignty” of Ukraine.
When asked if it is time to impose sanctions on Russia, Johnson said he will still have to see exactly what happens in the two breakaway regions though he claimed that the West had to apply as much pressure as possible.
“What I have said before about the package of sanctions is that they will be triggered with the first toecap of a Russian incursion or Russian invasion. But plainly, what has happened is extremely bad news,” Johnson said.
On Monday, top leaders of the United States, France and Germany discussed how they “will continue to coordinate their response on next steps” against Russia.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement that Biden will soon issue an executive order prohibiting new investment, trade and financing by Americans to, from, or in the two breakaway regions.
“We have anticipated a move like this from Russia and are ready to respond immediately. To be clear, these measures are separate from and would be in addition to the swift and severe economic measures we have been preparing in coordination with our allies and partners should Russia further invade Ukraine,” Psaki said.
European Union (EU) top officials Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel both said the EU and its partners will “react with unity, firmness and with determination in solidarity with Ukraine.”
“The Union will react with sanctions against those involved in this illegal act,” they said in a joint statement.
On Monday, Putin signed a presidential decree recognizing the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk and instructed his defense ministry to assume “the function of maintaining peace” in the eastern regions.
Putin’s announcement paved the way for Russia to openly send troops and weapons to support the Russian-backed rebels in the two regions.
After the recognition, Putin signed an agreement with the separatist leaders of the two regions, which gives Russia the right to build military bases in the areas.
Russia and the two breakaway regions are also reportedly planning to sign separate agreements on military cooperation and protection of borders.
But Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said they ‘are not afraid’ of Russia’s recent move.
“We are on our own land. We are not afraid of anything or anyone. We owe nothing to anyone. And we will not give anything to anyone,” Zelenskyy said.