Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday that he no longer felt that a key 2015 plan agreed with France, Germany and Kyiv would be able to resolve Ukraine’s separatist conflict.
“We understand that there are no prospects” for the implementation of the 2015 Minsk peace accords, agreed in the capital of Belarus to end fighting between Ukraine’s army and pro-Moscow rebels in the east of the country, Putin told his security council.
Putin warned that Western powers were using Moscow’s feud with Ukraine to threaten Russia’s own security and said he was considering recognising the independence of two breakaway Russian-backed regions.
Openly backing the separatist regions of Donetsk and Lugansk in eastern Ukraine would effectively put to an end an already shaky peace plan and dramatically increase the likelihood of an all-out Russian invasion.
Moscow appeared to be already laying the groundwork for such an operation by claiming — to furious Kyiv denials — that its forces had intercepted and killed five Ukrainian saboteurs who infiltrated Russian territory, and accusing Ukraine of shelling a border post.
The Kremlin has dispatched a huge force to Ukraine’s border — US intelligence says it is more than 150,000-strong and poised to attack.
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told NBC news that a Russian invasion of its neighbour would be an “extremely violent” operation followed by a brutal occupation.
“It will be a war waged by Russia on the Ukrainian people to repress them, to crush them, to harm them,” the White House official said.
Western powers have threatened a crippling sanctions package if Russia invades.
Russia annexed the Ukrainian region of Crimea in 2014 and Moscow-backed separatists hold an enclave in the eastern distracts of Lugansk and Donetsk.
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