Putin says he could recognize Ukraine’s breakaway regions

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

MOSCOW/PARIS, Feb 21 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday he was considering a request for two regions in eastern Ukraine held by Russian-backed separatists to be recognized as independent – a move that could give Moscow a reason to openly send in troops. Read more

Separately, Moscow says Ukrainian military saboteurs tried to enter Russian territory in armed vehicles, a charge dismissed as ‘fake news’ by Kiev amid Western accusations that Moscow aims to fabricate a pretext to invade. .

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

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European financial markets slumped on signs of heightened confrontation, after briefly advancing on glimmers of hope that a summit could offer a way out of Europe’s biggest military crisis in decades. Russian stocks plunged and the ruble fell 3%.

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

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

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

Ukraine and the West view the rebels controlling the two small eastern regions as proxies for Russia and have been warning for weeks that Moscow could use them to fabricate a war dossier.

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

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu then appeared to up the ante even more by saying that Ukraine – which had renounced nuclear weapons after its independence from the Soviet Union – had greater “nuclear potential” than Ukraine. 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 all canceled flights to Kyiv. Read more

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said Britain had seen intelligence suggesting Putin’s invasion plan had begun.

“We are seeing elements of the Russian playbook that we would expect to see in certain situations start playing out in real time,” he told reporters.

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Reporting from Reuters offices Writing by Kevin Liffey Editing by Peter Graff and Frank Jack Daniel

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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