EU reacts to Putin's Donbass move
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has warned that the EU will “react with unity” to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recognition of the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. Von der Leyen accused the Kremlin of violating the Minsk accords, an accusation Moscow has previously leveled at Ukraine.
“The recognition of the two separatist territories in #Ukraine is a blatant violation of international law, the territorial integrity of Ukraine and the #Minsk agreements,” Von der Leyen tweeted on Monday.
“The EU and its partners will react with unity, firmness and with determination in solidarity with Ukraine.”
The recognition of the two separatist territories in #Ukraine is a blatant violation of international law, the territorial integrity of Ukraine and the #Minsk agreements.The EU and its partners will react with unity, firmness and with determination in solidarity with Ukraine.— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) February 21, 2022
Von der Leyen’s statement came immediately after Putin signed the papers recognizing the independence of the two breakaway regions, which split from Kiev’s control during the Western-backed Maidan coup of 2014. Peace between the regions, together known as the Donbass, was achieved with the signing of the Minsk agreements in 2014 and 2015, but Ukraine has thus far failed to award special status to Donetsk and Lugansk as the accords stipulate.
While both the breakaway territories and Ukrainian forces regularly accuse each other of breaching the Minsk ceasefire, a flareup of artillery and small arms fire on the edges of the Donbass in recent days prompted leaders of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR respectively) to petition Moscow for recognition.
Although Putin has accused Ukrainian forces of perpetrating “genocide” on Russian speakers in the Donbass, the Russian president has thus far touted the Minsk agreements as key to resolving the situation.
In a televised address before granting recognition to the regions, Putin claimed the “Kiev regime constantly talks about how it is not interested in the Minsk protocol or in any kind of peaceful solutions,” leaving Russia no choice but to recognize the regions. Should Ukrainian forces refuse to “stop any and all military action against the Donbass,” he warned “the consequences will be on Ukraine.”
The EU’s response will be economic. In a follow-up statement, von der Leyen said “the union will react with sanctions against those involved in this illegal act.”
Putin, who has seen Russia’s long-standing security demands repeatedly rebuffed by the West, said on Monday that Russia is being “blackmailed” with the threat of sanctions.
“The more sovereign Russia becomes, the stronger their sanctions will become,” he said. “They don't even need a formal reason. Their reason is that we exist.”
“In a situation when our offers of dialogue are being refused, Russia is allowed to take measures to guarantee its security,” Putin stated, adding: “We will do this.”