US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken today criticized a decision by Russian lawmakers to recognize two Russian-backed breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine as independent states, saying it was illegal and would attract a swift response.
The Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, voted on Tuesday to ask President Vladimir Putin to recognize the self-proclaimed People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. The EU told Russia not to go further.
“Passing this resolution will further undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, is a gross violation of international law, and calls into question Russia’s commitment to continue to engage in diplomacy to achieve a peaceful solution to this crisis,” Blinken said.
The U.S. secretary said the move “will require a swift and decisive response from the United States in full coordination with allies and partners.”
The Duma measure, if passed, could trigger a broader standoff over Russian military expansion near Ukraine, which has fueled Western fears that Moscow could strike. Russia denies any invasion plan and accuses the West of fanaticism.
Recognizing the self-declared regions could kill the Minsk peace process in eastern Ukraine, where conflict between government forces and Moscow-backed separatists in the region known as the Donbass has claimed 15,000 lives.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin “took note” of the parliament’s request but said it would not comply with the 2014-2015 Minsk agreements aimed at ending the conflict.
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