Russia recognizing separatist regions would be an assault on Ukraine’s sovereignty, says French FM
Any recognition by Moscow of the non-government-controlled parts of the Donbas would be tantamount to an assault on Ukraine’s territorial integrity, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has said, French news agency AFP reported on Feb. 15.
"It would be an impossible situation, representing an attack without weapons and a dismantling of the unity and integrity of Ukraine,” said Le Drian.
The minister added that French President Emmanuel Macron is looking to verify Russia’s claims that it is pulling its troops away from Ukraine.
Investigative journalist Christo Grozev, the open-source investigation outlet Bellingcat’s lead Russia investigator, has said on Twitter that he has not seen any evidence of this supposed Russian drawdown.
Meanwhile fresh commercial satellite imagery on Feb. 15 showed Russian attack helicopters and warplanes had been deployed to airbases close to Ukraine. Such air units are usually the last to be deployed ahead of an attack.
That same day, the Russian parliament voted in favor of asking Russian President Vladimir Putin to consider recognizing the Moscow-controlled areas of Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region as independent “republics.” In response, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that “Russia must do everything in its power to solve the Donbas’s problems.”
Mykhailo Podoliak, who serves as an advisor to the Ukrainian president’s Chief-of-Staff, Andriy Yermak, described the Russian legislature’s move as confrontational and corrosive to European Security.
Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said that by recognizing its puppet regimes in the Donbas as independent, Russia would abandon the Minsk peace process. The EU and NATO echoed this sentiment, decrying the actions of Russia’s parliament.
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