Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters on Tuesday that the Minsk peace deal no longer exists, BBC reports.
Putin was referring to a pair of agreements, signed in 2014 and 2015 in Minsk, Belarus, which were intended to end fighting between Ukrainian government forces and Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. Neither the initial Minsk Protocol nor the subsequent "Minsk II" agreement resulted in a lasting ceasefire, though many international observers continued to push for its full implementation as the best way of achieving peace.
Putin ordered Russian troops into eastern Ukraine late Monday after recognizing the independence of the separatist-controlled Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic, both of which are home to large Russian-speaking populations.
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Both breakaway republics claim land currently controlled by the Ukrainian military, which could give Russian troops a pretext to launch attacks against Ukrainian forces, sparking an all-out war between the two nations.
In a speech announcing his decision, Putin said that "Ukraine for us is not just a neighboring country. It is an integral part of our own history, culture, spiritual space," according to a translation provided by The New York Times. He also claimed that Ukraine has "never had a tradition of genuine statehood" and that "[m]odern Ukraine was entirely created by Russia, more precisely Bolshevik communist Russia," according to Reuters. Therefore, Putin claimed, "decommunization" should have entailed the re-incorporation of Ukraine into Russia. "We are ready to show you what real decommunization means for Ukraine," Putin said.
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