Russian parliament ratifies Donbass agreements
Russian lawmakers have voted in favor of ratifying agreements underpinning political cooperation and military support for the two breakaway Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, after President Vladimir Putin signed a proclamation recognizing their independence.
In a session held on Tuesday, the Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, unanimously backed the deals, with 400 MPs voting in favor. Earlier that same day, the parliaments of the two regions simultaneously ratified the ‘Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation with the Russian Federation.’
The day before, Putin held a televised national address in which he said “I deem it necessary to make a decision that should have been made a long time ago” and to “immediately” recognize both as sovereign states. The move, he said, was in response to years of fighting in Ukraine’s war-torn east and Kiev’s attempts to “drag foreign states into conflict with our country” with its efforts to join NATO.
Prior to the decision, the Russian parliament had backed a motion calling on Putin to recognize the Donbass republics, with 351 MPs voting in favor. Just 16 lawmakers voted against the resolution, and one abstained.
Leaders of the breakaway republics and officials in Kiev have accused each other of carrying out heavy shelling along the contact line for several days. Last week, Donetsk and Lugansk announced that they had begun evacuating civilians to Russia, amid what they claim is a sharp spike in hostilities, and have ordered the mobilization of all able-bodied men to be ready to fight in a potential conflict.
Ukraine rejects claims it is preparing to attack, with Aleksey Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, claiming that “there is an attempt to provoke our forces,” and that Kiev’s troops “can only open fire if there will be a threat to the lives of our service members.”