Vladimir Putin ordered on Monday 21 February the Russian army to “maintain peace” in the pro-Russian separatist territories of Ukraine, whose independence he has recognized, before signing mutual aid agreements providing for the lasting presence of Russian forces in the “people’s republics” of Donetsk and Lugansk.
Recognition of the independence of these two eastern territories opened the way for a Russian military deployment at the request of the separatists who have been fighting the Ukrainian armed forces for eight years. Neither the timetable nor the scale of the deployment was announced in the documents, each of which is one page long and was published on the website of the Russian database of legal texts.
According to the texts published on a website of the Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, the mutual assistance agreements provide for the parties to defend each other, share military bases and protect their borders together. With a duration of 10 years, they create “the legal basis for the presence” in these territories “of Russian military units necessary to maintain peace in the region and ensure sustainable security.
Press statement by President Charles Michel of the European Council and President Ursula von der Leyen of the European Commission, 21 February 2022
President Michel and President von der Leyen condemn in the strongest possible terms the decision by the Russian President to proceed with the recognition of the non-government controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of Ukraine as independent entities.
This step is a blatant violation of international law as well as of the Minsk agreements.
The Union will react with sanctions against those involved in this illegal act.
The Union reiterates its unwavering support to Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders.
statement by President Emmanuel Macron 21 February 2022
Tweet Government official – France
By recognizing the separatist regions of eastern Ukraine, Russia is violating its commitments and undermining Ukraine’s sovereignty. I condemn this decision. I asked for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council and European sanctions.