Putin Aims to Provide Military Support for Breakaway Regions From Ukraine

The United Nations Security Council is set to gather for an emergency meeting Monday, as Russian President Vladimir Putin seeks to provide military support to separatist regions of Ukraine.

Putin recognized the independence of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics Monday, calling it a "long overdue decision." The Russian president then called on the country's lawmakers to approve measures that would pave the way for military support to the "republics." The decision was announced in a pre-recorded speech that blamed NATO for the crisis.

In response, the United Nations Security Council is set to hold an emergency meeting Monday night. The meeting was called at Ukraine's request, a move U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield supported.

Putin address
Russian President Vladimir Putin will provide military support to Ukraine's breakaway regions. Above, Putin addresses the nation from the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on February 21, 2022. Alexei Nikolsky/AP Photo

"Russia's actions threaten the international order that, since World War II, has stood for the principle that one country cannot unilaterally redraw another country's borders," Thomas-Greenfield said. "This principle is enshrined in the UN Charter which all Member States pledge to uphold.

"The Security Council must demand that Russia respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, a UN Member State," she continued. "The Kremlin's actions today are a wholesale rejection of the Minsk agreements and a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2202 (2015).

"Russia's announcement is nothing more than theater, apparently designed to create a pretext for a further invasion of Ukraine. We must all stand with Ukraine in the face of this brazen attempt to usurp Ukraine's sovereign territory. There can be no fence-sitters in this crisis."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the nation after 2 a.m. local time Tuesday, saying Ukraine will not cede.

"We are not afraid of anyone or anything," Zelenskyy said. "We don't owe anyone anything. And we won't give anything to anyone."

Zelenskyy additionally called for emergency meetings of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Normandy Format and the United Nations Security Council, according to local reporters.

Following Putin's announcement, Zelenskyy said he discussed Monday's "events" with President Joe Biden and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Zelenskyy said conversations are also planned with President of the European Council Charles Michel and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Biden issued an executive order on Monday prohibiting investment and trade in the separatist regions. The White House is set to announce additional measures Tuesday. For weeks, Biden has warned of "severe" economic consequences if Russia were to invade Ukraine.

Following Monday's announcement, U.S. State Department personnel who were recently relocated to Lviv will spend the night in Poland, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday.

"They will regularly return to continue their diplomatic work in Ukraine and provide emergency consular services," Blinken said.