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Putin Signs a Decree Recognizing Two Breakaway Regions in Ukraine as Independent

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INTERNATIONAL: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday ,February 21, has announced Russia would recognise two breakaway regions in Ukraine' east as independent entities, the Donetsk and Lukhansk.

Putin has said he was confident that Russia's citizens supported the decision, brushing off Western warnings that such a step would be illegal and would kill off peace negotiations.

Putin has announced his decision at the end of a televised national address lasting almost one hour. Shortly after his address, state television has aired footage of the Russian president signing a decree formally recognising the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lukhansk as independent.

Moscow's move could torpedo a last-minute bid for a summit with U.S. President Joe Biden to prevent Russia from invading Ukraine, and the rouble extended its losses as Putin spoke on the issue, falling 3.3 percent on the day to 79.83 per dollar.

The European Union has warned of sanctions from the 27-nation bloc should Moscow annex or recognise the breakaway regions in the east of Ukraine and largely controlled by Russia-backed separatists.

"If there is annexation, there will be sanctions, and if there is recognition, I will put the sanctions on the table and the ministers will decide," the EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has said after a meeting of the bloc's foreign ministers.

Recognition of the rebel-held areas could provide a pretext for Russian troops to cross the border into those areas.

In his address, Putin has railed against Ukraine, saying that neo-Nazis were on the rise, oligarchic clans were rife and that the ex-Soviet country was a U.S. colony with a puppet regime.

He has described eastern Ukraine as ancient Russian lands and modern Ukraine as a state created by the Bolsheviks after the 1917 revolution.

Putin has also said that Ukraine never had a tradition of genuine statehood and complained that post-Soviet Ukraine had wanted everything it could from Moscow without doing anything in return.

The Russian president has also stressed that Ukraine is not just a neighbouring country. It's an integral part of Russia’s history, culture, spiritual continuum.

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