The Russian leader has also ordered troops to “maintain peace” in the breakaway regions of Luhansk and Donetsk.
Moscow’s moves come amid months of tension over Russia’s military deployment on the borders of Ukraine, which has prompted warnings from the United States and several European nations.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said he would not concede his country’s land despite escalating tensions with Russia amid the possibility of an invasion.
“We are committed to the peaceful and diplomatic path, we will follow it and only it,” Zelensky stated, adding, “But we are on our own land, we are not afraid of anything and anybody, we owe nothing to no one, and we will give nothing to no one.”
The president also accused Moscow of violating Ukraine’s sovereign territory and called for an emergency meeting of the leaders from Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France as well as support from Ukraine’s allies.
At an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Monday, the Ukraine ambassador to the UN condemned Russia’s decision to recognize pro-Moscow regions of Ukraine as “illegal and illegitimate.”
“Today the entire membership of the United Nations is under attack,” Sergiy Kyslytsya said, adding, “The internationally recognized borders of Ukraine have been and will remain unchangeable, regardless of any actions and statements by the Russian federation.”
“The political leadership of the Russian federation shall bear full responsibility for the outcomes of the decision taken,” he continued, noting, “Recognition of the occupied parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine may be considered as unilateral withdrawal by Russia from the Minsk agreement.”
Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said further actions by Russia will “rely on how the world reacts.”
“World capitals don’t sleep now, regardless of their time zones. The scope and timeline of sanctions are being finalized. Ukraine insists: further Russian actions rely on how the world reacts. Russia must be in no doubt that the world talks the talk and walks the walk on sanctions,” he added.
The United States
President Joe Biden “strongly condemned Russian President Putin’s decision to purportedly recognize the ‘independence’” of the eastern regions of Ukraine, the White House said.
The US president also told Zelenskyy “that the United States would respond swiftly and decisively, in lock-step with its Allies and partners, to further Russian aggression against Ukraine”.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has also said Russia’s recognition of east Ukraine’s breakaway region requires a “swift and firm response”, tweeting that Washington and its partners will take “appropriate steps” against Moscow.
In a separate statement, Blinken also slammed Moscow’s decision as “yet another example of President Putin’s flagrant disrespect for international law and norms”.
The White House has also responded to Putin’s decision to recognize the independence of two breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine, levying a number of sanctions on the region.
Biden signed an executive order that prohibits new investment, trade and financing by U.S. persons to, from, or in the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic regions of Ukraine.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the UN, has announced that Russia has taken the exact actions that the US predicted, and that the US does not believe that Putin will stop now.
President Emmanuel Macron stated that “by recognising the separatist regions in eastern Ukraine, Russia is violating its commitments and undermining Ukraine’s sovereignty.”
“I condemn this decision. I have asked for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council and European sanctions,” he wrote on Twitter.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz condemned remarks by Putin that Russia could recognise two Kremlin-backed breakaway Ukrainian regions as independent, his office said in a statement.
Scholz’s office added the German chancellor also told Putin during a phone call that any such move would amount to a “one-sided breach” of the Minsk agreements designed to end a separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Scholz also urged Putin to pull Russian troops from Ukraine’s border and deescalate the situation in eastern Ukraine.
His office said he would consult with Ukrainian and French leaders about the situation in Ukraine.
The United Kingdom
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has stated that “it’s a flagrant violation of the sovereignty and integrity of the Ukraine… a repudiation of the Minsk process and the Minsk agreements.”
“The UK will continue to do everything we can to stand by the people of Ukraine with a very robust package of sanctions,” he noted.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has also noted the move “signals an end to the Minsk process and is a violation of the United Nations Charter.”
“We will not allow Russia’s violation of its international commitments to go unpunished,” she said.
Truss has warned that Britain will announce new sanctions against Russia on Tuesday over what she called Moscow’s “breach of international law and attack on Ukraine’s sovereignty”.
Chief Jens Stoltenberg denounced President Putin’s recognition of areas in east Ukraine, saying it violated international agreements Moscow had signed.
“I condemn Russia’s decision to extend recognition to the self-proclaimed ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ and ‘Luhansk People’s Republic’. This further undermines Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, erodes efforts towards a resolution of the conflict, and violates the Minsk Agreements, to which Russia is a party,” Stoltenberg added.
The United Nations
Spokesperson for UN chief Antonio Guterres has stated the secretary-general considers the decision of the Russian Federation to be “a violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and inconsistent with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”
“The United Nations, in line with the relevant General Assembly resolutions, remains fully supportive of the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine, within its internationally recognised borders,” the spokesperson said.
The European Union
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen noted “the recognition of the two separatist territories in Ukraine is a blatant violation of international law, the territorial integrity of Ukraine and the Minsk agreements.”
“The EU and its partners will react with unity, firmness and with determination in solidarity with Ukraine,” she added.
Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, has also stressed that “the decrees by President Putin ordering a so-called peacekeeping mission into the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics is another outright aggression against Ukraine, a violation of its territorial integrity and sovereignty.”
Beijing has released a statement at an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council, with the Chinese ambassador to the UN saying “all parties concerned must exercise restraint and avoid any action that may fuel tensions.”
“We welcome and encourage every effort for and call on all parties concerned to continue dialogue and consultation and seek reasonable solutions to address each other’s concerns, on the basis of equality and mutual respect,” stated Zhang Jun in a statement.
“The current situation in Ukraine is the result of many complex factors. China always makes its own position according to the merits of the matter itself. We believe that all countries should solve international disputes by peaceful means in line with the purposes and principles of the UN charter,” he added.