Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that he will recognize the independence of two separatist regions in eastern Ukraine as the possibility of a Russian invasion of Ukraine looms.
Following an address to the Russian nation, Putin signed a decree recognizing the separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states.
“I deem it necessary to make a decision that should have been made a long time ago to immediately recognize the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic,” Putin said.
Earlier Monday, during a Security Council meeting in the Kremlin, several top Russian officials argued that they supported recognizing the independence of the two separatist regions’ in the eastern province of Donbas, the Associated Press reported.
The Kremlin said on the president’s website that Putin had also spoken with French President Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz about his decision.
“The president of France and the Federal Chancellor of Germany expressed their disappointment with this development,” the Kremlin said in a statement. “At the same time, they indicated their readiness to continue contacts.”
Putin’s announcement comes as United States officials have warned that Russia was creating a “false flag” campaign to justify invading Ukraine.
US President Joe Biden said on Friday that he is “convinced” Putin would launch an attack on Ukraine in the coming days.
“As of this moment, I’m convinced he’s made the decision. We have reason to believe that,” Biden said at a press conference, adding, “We believe that they will target Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv, a city of 2.8 million innocent people.”
Biden also accused Russia of pushing disinformation “to set up a false justification to act against Ukraine.”
This story is developing. Please check back for updates.