Putin dismisses Ukraine's independence; recognizes breakaway regions; orders' peacekeepers' into those regions
WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) – In a tightly-controlled and carefully-orchestrated series of events on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin took actions that senior US figures outside of the Biden administration have described as a renewed invasion of Ukraine. However, the administration itself has not gone so far.
Above all, at the end of the day, Putin ordered Russian "peacekeepers" into the breakaway regions.
The day began with a televised meeting of Putin and Russia's security council. The discussion between Putin and his senior advisors focused on whether he should recognize the breakaway Ukrainian republics of Luhansk and Donetsk. Last week, the Russian parliament had called on Putin to do just that.
The security council meeting ended with Putin saying that he would make his decision later that day. And later that day, Putin announced that Russia was recognizing the Ukrainian republics as separate, independent states, although, of course, that decision had been made some time before.
Putin's announcement was accompanied by treaties of economic and military cooperation, which, according to Russian media, was greeted by "widespread celebration" in Luhansk and Donetsk.
Putin announced that decision in an hour-long televised address, remarkable for its belligerence toward Ukraine and the West, as he derided Ukraine as "a colony with a puppet regime."
Putin's account of his decision involved the recitation of a history going back to 1922 and the founding of the Soviet Union. He falsely claimed that Ukraine was a Soviet creation and that the Bolsheviks were so keen to maintain their hold on power that they made extensive and unreasonable concessions to the republics, including Ukraine, which constituted the USSR—i.e., the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
Russian disinformation has portrayed Ukrainian forces as attacking civilians in Luhansk and Donetsk. Thus, Moscow has arranged to evacuate a significant number of women, children, and elderly living in the breakaway republics to Russia proper, claiming that their lives are in danger from Ukrainian attack.
Later on Monday, following his announcement of Moscow's recognition of the breakaway regions, Putin ordered the dispatch of "peacekeeping" troops there.
However, at that point, the White House balked. Earlier, it had said that any Russian troops crossing its border with Ukraine would be regarded as an invasion and trigger massive sanctions.
But as The Washington Post reported, in an article entitled, White House wrestles with whether Russia has 'invaded' Ukraine, the Biden administration is divided on whether Russia's actions on Monday "constituted a red-line invasion."
Thus, a senior administration official briefing reporters that day "tried to portray Monday's developments as far short of a dramatic change," the Post said.
After all, there have long been Russian forces in Ukraine's breakaway regions, according to the US official. So this is not really a new situation.
However, others strongly disagreed. Speaking on US cable news later on Monday, Amb. Michael McFaul, former US ambassador to Moscow, affirmed, "Russia invaded Ukraine today." But "because the world is waiting for a massive invasion," McFaul added, perhaps we did not pay enough attention to this.
Amb. William Taylor, former US ambassador to Ukraine, similarly affirmed, "This is an invasion," as did Gen. Barry McCaffrey (US Army, Retired), who served as Deputy US Representative to NATO. He also asked a troubling question: if Putin gets away with seizing Ukraine, what country will be next?
The Biden administration imposed some sanctions on Donetsk and Luhansk on Monday, and it has said that more sanctions will follow on Tuesday.