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Putin's recognition of separatist territories calls for 'swift and firm' response, Blinken says

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday assured Moscow's decision to recognize the independence of two eastern Ukraine territories controlled by Russian-backed separatists would not go unpunished, the official tweeted Monday.

"Kremlin recognition of the so-called 'Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics' as 'independent' requires a swift and firm response," Blinken wrote, "and we will take appropriate steps in coordination with partners."

Around the time of Blinken's Monday missive, Russian President Vladimir Putin ominously ordered Russian troops to carry out "peacekeeping functions" in the aforementioned separatist regions, raising alarm bells that the "long-feared" invasion of Ukraine has finally begun.

"While Mr. Putin's ultimate plans remain a mystery," writes The New York Times, "a full invasion would constitute the largest military action in Europe since World War II."