Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops into eastern Ukraine late Monday, all but confirming the White House's long-held fears of invasion. The move comes shortly after the Kremlin recognized the independence of two territories in eastern Ukraine that are controlled by Russian-backed separatists, the Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic.
Moscow described Monday's dramatic escalation as "peacekeeping functions" in its decrees. The targeted regions are home to roughly 800,000 Russians, and Putin last week alleged, without providing evidence, that Ukraine had committed "genocide" in the areas. "It was not immediately certain whether the Russian troops would remain only on the territory controlled by the separatist republics, or whether they would seek to capture the rest of the two Ukrainian regions whose territory they claim," The New York Times reports.
Photos circulated late Monday showed Donetsk residents celebrating Putin's recognition of the region's independence. Earlier Monday, the leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk regions had appealed to Moscow for recognition.
The White House said in a statement that Biden would be signing an executive order to "prohibit new investment, trade, and financing by U.S. persons to, from, or in the so-called DNR and LNR regions of Ukraine." The White House further promised that it would "soon announce additional measures related to today's blatant violation of Russia's international commitments."
Biden also spoke on secure calls with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Monday afternoon. He also spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, with the White House reporting afterward that "President Biden reiterated that the United States would respond swiftly and decisively, in lock-step with its Allies and partners, to further Russian aggression against Ukraine."
This is a developing story and has been updated throughout. Follow our latest coverage here.