Russian President Vladimir Putin signed decrees ordering military forces into two separatist regions of Ukraine for “peacekeeping” purposes as Moscow recognized the breakaway regions’ independence Monday.
Putin signed a decree recognizing the areas — a move that Russia could use to justify an attack in those areas — and an agreement of cooperation with the heads of the two regions: Denis Pushilin of the Donetsk People’s Republic and Leonid Pasechnik of the Luhansk People’s Republic.
The formal recognition prompted a chorus of condemnation from world leaders, with some vowing sanctions.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Biden would issue an executive order prohibiting U.S. investment and trade in the breakaway regions. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called Putin’s recognition of the breakaway territories a “blatant violation” of international law and said the bloc would “react with unity, firmness and with determination in solidarity with Ukraine.” French President Emmanuel Macron called the declaration a “violation of the sovereignty of Ukraine” and called for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council, echoing Ukraine’s request from earlier in the day.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson signaled a willingness to hold off on imposing sanctions, but said Putin’s move was “a very ill omen and a very dark sign.” NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg accused Moscow of escalating the conflict and urged Russia to “choose diplomacy.”