Date :23-Feb-2022

Russian President casts order as an effort to ‘maintain peace’ as he recognises separatist regions 
A LONG-FEARED Russian invasion of Ukraine appeared to be imminent on Tuesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin ordering forces into separatist regions of eastern Ukraine. A vaguely worded decree signed by Putin cast the order as an effort to “maintain peace.” But it appeared to dash the slim remaining hopes of averting a major conflict in Europe that could cause massive casualties, energy shortages on the continent and economic chaos around the globe. However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy dared back and told the nation that Ukraine is “not afraid of anyone or anything.” He spoke during a chaotic day in which Russia appeared to be moving closer to an invasion, with President Vladimir Putin recognising separatist regions of eastern Ukraine and then ordering forces there. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy sought to project calm, telling the country in an address overnight: “We are not afraid of anyone or anything. We don’t owe anyone anything.
And we won’t give anything to anyone.” His Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, would be in Washington on Tuesday to meet with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the State Department said. Russia set the stage for a quick move to secure its hold on Ukraine’s rebel regions on Tuesday with new legislation that would allow the deployment of troops there as the West prepares to announce sanctions against Moscow amid fears of a full-scale invasion. The new Russia bills, which are likely to be quickly rubber- stamped by the Kremlin-controlled Parliament, came a day after President Vladimir Putin recognised the independence of the regions in eastern Ukraine. The legislation could be a pretext for a deeper move into Ukrainian territory as the US and its allies have feared.
Quickly after Putin signed the decree late on Monday, convoys of armoured vehicles were seen rolling across the separatist-controlled territories. It wasn’t immediately clear if they were Russian. Russian officials haven’t yet acknowledged any troop deployments to the rebel east, but Vladislav Brig, a member of the separatist local council in Donetsk, told reporters that the Russian troops already had moved in, taking up positions in the region’s North and West. Putin’s decision to recognise the rebel regions as independent states follows a nearly eight-year old separatist conflict that has killed more than 14,000 and devastated Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland called Donbas.
The latest developments and move by Putin were met with reprehension by many countries around the world. Ever since the conflict erupted weeks after Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Ukrainian Crimean Peninsula, Ukraine and its Western allies have accused Moscow of backing the separatists with troops and weapons, the charges it has denied, saying that Russians who fought in the east were volunteers. Putin’s move on Monday formalises Russia’s hold on the regions and gives it a free hand to deploy its forces there. Draft bills that are set quickly sail through both Houses of Russian Parliament on Tuesday, envisage military ties, including possible deployment of Russian military bases in the separatist regions. Several senior lawmakers suggested on Tuesday that Russia could recognise the rebel-held territories in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine in their original administrative borders, including the chunks of land currently under the Ukrainian control.