The separatist republics Russia recognized and deployed troops to earlier this week have asked Russia to help them repel "the aggression of the Ukrainian armed forces," Russian state media reported.
Max Seddon, the Moscow bureau chief for the Financial Times, tweeted images of letters to Russian President Vladimir Putin from the presidents of the breakaway Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics asking for Russian military aid. "This could be it," Seddon wrote, noting the letters were dated Feb. 22.
According to Seddon's translation, the letters called on Putin to help the republics "beat back" Ukraine's military "to avoid victims among the civilian population and a humanitarian catastrophe in the Donbas" region of eastern Ukraine.
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The letters also accuse Ukrainian forces of "the destruction of civil and industrial infrastructure, schools, hospitals, and kindergartens, and worst of all, the deaths of the civilian population, including children," the state-owned Russian news agency TASS reported.
Ukrainian troops currently occupy territory claimed by the separatist republics, meaning that Russia could order offensive operations to "reclaim" that territory for its newest satellites and use the resulting conflict to justify a general assault on Ukraine.
On Wednesday, President Biden's administration informed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that he should expect a full-scale Russian invasion within the next 48 hours, Newsweek reported. Ukraine has called up reservists, expanded private gun rights, and is preparing to declare a state of emergency.
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