Financial TimesFinancial Times

Why Putin has Ukraine’s separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in his sights

By Henry Foy

21 Feb 2022 · 4 min read

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin has recognised the independence of two Moscow-backed separatist regions in eastern Ukraine — a step that could dramatically increase the risk of full-scale war with Kyiv.

The decision, announced after a televised meeting of Russia’s security council, came in response to pleas from the leaders of the self-proclaimed People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk for Putin to recognise them as independent states and protect them from what they said was a planned offensive by Ukraine to retake them. Ukraine has denied this and said Russia was trying to use the allegation — and renewed hostilities by its proxies — as a pretext for a renewed invasion.

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