According to a report, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday claimed, without evidence, that “genocide” is occurring in the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine, where Kremlin-backed rebels have been fighting a war with Ukrainian forces since 2014.
“In our view what is now happening in Donbas is genocide,” Vladimir Putin said during a joint press conference in Moscow with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, per BBC News. Similarly, Putin in December said the conflict in the Donbas looks like genocide.
It was said that Russia in 2014 justified its military intervention in Ukraine by claiming ethnic Russians were being threatened, assertions the US fervently rejected. “What’s happening there is not based on actual concern for Russian nationals or Russian speakers inside of Ukraine, but is based on Russia seeking, through force, to exert influence on a neighboring country. That is not how international law is supposed to operate,” President Barack Obama said of the situation in Ukraine at the time.
Putin’s comments on Tuesday came as Russia said that it was pulling back an unspecified number of its troops from Ukraine’s border a claim met with extreme skepticism by Ukraine and the West.
Meanwhile, Russia’s parliament on Tuesday backed a resolution calling on Putin to formally recognize Donetsk and Luhansk breakaway territories in the Donbas region on Russia’s border, whose fighters are supported by Moscow as independent states.
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It was stated that if Putin recognized these territories as independent, it could open the door for Russia to annex them, and also in 2014, Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea.
In a tweet responding to the vote, the US embassy in Kyiv said it was yet another odious attempt to violate Ukraine’s sovereignty and a clear violation of the Minsk agreements, which commit signatories to reintegrate these regions, as it was reported.
The Minsk agreements are cease-fire deals signed in 2014 and 2015 (negotiated in Minsk, Belarus) designed to end fighting in the Donbas, but the accords have never been fully implemented.
That said, Putin said during Tuesday’s press conference that Donbas issues should be resolved in the framework of the Minsk agreements.
As it was reported, the Minsk accords restore Ukrainian control over the separatist territories in the Donbas while granting them special autonomy.
It was gathered that Kyiv and Moscow have fundamentally different interpretations of what the implementation of Minsk would look like. Critics of the agreements contend they would give Russia too much power over Ukrainian politics. And despite clear evidence that Russia is involved in the Donbas and has troops there, Moscow has stated that it’s not a party to the conflict and should not be bound to the terms of Minsk.
As gathered, Russia has gathered tens of thousands of troops on Ukraine’s border since late 2021. The Kremlin has claimed it does not plan to invade, but the US has warned that a Russian military incursion could occur at any moment. As it threatens Ukraine, Moscow has demanded binding security guarantees from the West. Among other demands, Russia stands that Ukraine is barred from ever joining NATO. But NATO and the US have been clear that this demand is a nonstarter.
It was said on Tuesday that the Russian President signaled he was open to continuing diplomatic talks, as Western officials questioned whether the Kremlin was genuinely interested in diplomacy. Signs coming from Moscow show that diplomacy should continue. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday that, this gives grounds for cautious optimism.
It was gathered that Stoltenberg added, But so far we have not seen any sign of de-escalation on the ground from the Russian side.