Russian leader Vladimir Putin has just begun his latest and much-anticipated encroachment into Ukraine by recognizing two Ukrainian regions occupied by Russian proxies as independent countries and dispatching his military to them.
Earlier on Monday, Putin signed a law passed by the Russian legislature recognizing the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic as fully sovereign and independent countries.
Officially Sending the First Russian Troops Inside Ukraine
The decision to do that paved the way for Moscow to find a major justification for waging a full-fledged war against Ukraine.
As the territories of the two quasi-states, DPR and LPR, are populated by ethnic Russians, by recognizing them and signing agreements with their proxy authorities, Moscow could easily use that as a justification for waging war against Ukraine.
Up until now, Putin abstained from recognizing their territories as independent states. However, with his decision on Monday to determinate the two quasi-states as independent countries, he effectively killed the Minsk Agreements.
According to the information shared on Monday night by the Kremlin, as cited by the Daily Mail, hours after he recognized the two separatist regions, Putin ordered Russian troops to move on them – and technically on the territory of Ukraine – for a “peacekeeping mission”.
The dispatch of the Russian military officially into the Donbas region is believed to be the first major step as Putin starts to wage a major war against Ukraine; this would be the biggest war in Europe since World War II.
When you describe Russian soldiers invading Ukraine right now as "peacekeepers", even when you use quotation marks, you are using language that Putin wants you to use. Call it what it is — an invasion.
— Michael McFaul (@McFaul) February 21, 2022
Putin reads long-winded speech, apparently written ages ago, in which he explains Ukraine never really existed and it was artificially created at the detriment of Russia. pic.twitter.com/Oee195taIt
— Christo Grozev (@christogrozev) February 21, 2022
Biden Reacts Quickly and Way Off the Mark
President Joe Biden was quick to react to Putin’s decision to recognize DPR and LPR by slapping economic sanctions on the two regions controlled by the Russian proxies.
At the same time, however, Biden didn’t target Russia or Putin himself, just the authorities of the two regions occupied by Russia.
The measures put in place by Biden ban any investment, financing, or trade for the two separatist regions Putin just declared to be independent states.
Biden’s other reaction was to immediately have a telephone conversation with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky in order to assure him America would respond “swiftly and decisively”.
The European Union also said it is going to follow in Biden’s footsteps and slap sanctions on the quasi-states, which were just recognized by Vladimir Putin.
However, Sleepy Joe’s decision to target just the DPR and LPR with sanctions, and not the Russian leader himself, has sparked outrage, even among left-wing pundits.
CNN National Security correspondent Jim Scuitto, for example, fumed over the limited nature of Biden’s response to Putin’s provocation and aggression with the recognition of the two quasi-states by Putin.
“Is this really it?!” Scuitto asked, wondering how Biden’s reaction to Putin’s already starting military encroachment could be so limited.
Thread: 1/5 Putin has done a classic bait and switch: frightened us with one thing so that we accept another. The further dismemberment of Ukraine, and an avowed Russian military presence there: in effect, two more Crimeas.
— Edward Lucas (@edwardlucas) February 21, 2022
If you want to know how Ukrainians react to Putin's speech, here's a glimpse: moms on Facebook discuss putting stickers on their children's clothes, when they go to school, indicating their blood type. Make no mistake: this speech was perceived as a declaration of war on Ukraine
— Olga Tokariuk (@olgatokariuk) February 21, 2022
Tuesday’s Times: “Putin sends tanks into Ukraine” #BBCPapers #TomorrowsPapersToday https://t.co/82MQgQU8w7 pic.twitter.com/O6mtaSHbGZ
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) February 21, 2022