Putin says he may recognize separatist regions of Ukraine

  • Moscow says Ukrainian armored vehicles tried to enter Russia
  • Kiev calls Russian allegations ‘fake news’
  • Ukraine and the West on alert, Russia creates a pretext to invade Macron proposes a summit between Biden and Putin
  • White House says summit is possible only if Russia doesn’t invade

MOSCOW/PARIS (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday he was considering a request by two regions of eastern Ukraine controlled by Russia-backed separatists to be recognized as independent, in a move that could give Moscow reason to publicly express its independence. Send troops. Read more

Separately, Moscow said Ukrainian military saboteurs tried to enter Russian territory with armed vehicles, a charge Kiev denied as “fake news” amid Western accusations that Moscow aims to create a pretext for the invasion.

Washington says Russia has now amassed a force of 169,190,000 troops in the region, including pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.

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European financial markets tumbled on signs of a growing confrontation, after rising briefly amid a glimmer of hope that the summit might provide a path out of Europe’s biggest military crisis in decades. Russian stocks fell, and the ruble fell by 3%.

Russia denies planning any attack on its neighbour, which broke from Moscow’s rule with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, but has demanded comprehensive security guarantees, including a promise that Ukraine would never join NATO.

After an extraordinary meeting of the Security Council, Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated those demands, insisting that it was not enough for the West to say Ukraine was not ready to join NATO at the moment.

In televised remarks, he also said that Moscow should consider the request made a few hours ago by the leaders of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, which broke away from Kiev’s control in 2014. Read more

Ukraine and the West regard the rebels who control the two small eastern regions as Russian proxies, and have warned for weeks that Moscow could use them to fabricate the cause of war.

Former President Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, said it was “obvious” that Ukraine did not need the two regions, and that the majority of Russians would support their independence.

Then Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu seemed to raise the stakes even further by saying that Ukraine – which gave up nuclear weapons after independence from the Soviet Union – had greater “nuclear potential” than Iran or North Korea.

After talks in Brussels with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said Western countries were preparing for a “worst-case scenario”. Airlines Lufthansa, KLM and Air France have canceled their flights to Kiev. Read more

A spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain had seen intelligence indicating that Putin’s invasion plan had begun.

“We’ve seen elements of the Russian rules of the game that we expect to see in certain situations starting to emerge in real time,” he told reporters.

(Reporting by Reuters offices) Writing by Kevin Levy Editing by Peter Graf and Frank Jack Daniel

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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