Russian President Vladimir Putin say Western powers are using Moscow’s feud with Ukraine to threaten Russia’s own security and says he is considering recognizing the independence of two breakaway Russian-backed regions.
“The use of Ukraine as an instrument of confrontation with our country poses a serious, very big threat to us,” Putin says, adding that Moscow’s priority was “not confrontation, but security.”
“Our goal is to listen to our colleagues and determine our next steps in this direction, bearing in mind both the appeals of the leaders of the DNR [Donetsk People’s Republic] and LNR [Lugansk People’s Republic] to recognize their independence,” Putin said.
Openly backing the separatist regions of Donetsk and Lugansk in eastern Ukraine would effectively put to an end an already shaky peace plan and dramatically increase the likelihood of an all-out Russian invasion.
Moscow appears to be already laying the groundwork for such an operation by claiming — to furious Ukrainian denials — that its forces have intercepted and killed five Ukrainian saboteurs who infiltrated Russian territory, and accusing Ukraine of shelling a border post.
The claims undermine efforts by European leaders to broker a diplomatic resolution by urging Putin to hold a summit with US President Joe Biden, although Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov did say he would meet his US counterpart on Thursday.
Putin makes his declaration as he opens a carefully stage-managed meeting of Russia’s national security council with made-for-television opening remarks.
He says he no longer feels that a key 2015 plan agreed on with France, Germany and Kyiv would be able to resolve Ukraine’s separatist conflict.
“We understand that there are no prospects” for the implementation of the 2015 Minsk peace accords, agreed on in the capital of Belarus to end fighting between Ukraine’s army and pro-Moscow rebels in the east of the country, Putin tells his security council.
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan tells NBC news that a Russian invasion of its neighbor would be an “extremely violent” operation followed by a brutal occupation.
“It will be a war waged by Russia on the Ukrainian people to repress them, to crush them, to harm them,” Sullivan says.