- Putin announced his decision in phone calls to the leaders of Germany and France, who voiced disappointment, the Kremlin said
MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin recognised two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine as independent entities on Monday, upping the ante in a crisis the West fears could unleash a major war.
In a lengthy televised address, Putin described Ukraine as an integral part of Russia's history and said eastern Ukraine was ancient Russian lands and that he was confident that the Russian people would support his decision.
Putin announced his decision in phone calls to the leaders of Germany and France, who voiced disappointment, the Kremlin said, and was later shown on state television signing the decree.
Moscow's move could torpedo a last-minute bid for a summit with U.S. President Joe Biden to prevent Russia from invading Ukraine, and the rouble extended its losses as Putin spoke on the issue, falling 3.3% on the day to 79.83 per dollar.
Putin delivered a long televised address that ended with his announcement, delving into history as far back as the Ottoman empire and as recent as the tensions over NATO's eastward expansion - a key irritant for Moscow in the present crisis.