Putin breaks with global order by recognizing Ukraine’s separatist areas

The decision clearly violates the principles of the U.N. Charter that stipulates respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each nation, and the peaceful settlement of disputes. Russia’s outrageous move, which has destabilized the international order, can never be tolerated.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced the recognition of two areas controlled by pro-Russian armed groups in eastern Ukraine as independent states.

Putin cited Ukraine’s close historical and cultural relations with Russia as a reason for the move. He also alleges that Ukraine failed to implement the 2015 Minsk peace agreement that stipulates the maintenance of a cease-fire in eastern Ukraine, resulting in the “genocide” of pro-Russian residents and others.

It goes without saying that this is an irrational, wild argument. No matter how much Putin emphasizes the unity of Russia and Ukraine, there is no justification for unilaterally recognizing the independence of another nation’s territory.

In the first place, the escalation of tensions this time was caused by the fact that Russia has amassed nearly 200,000 troops near the border with Ukraine. Moscow has also long provided military support to pro-Russian groups in Ukraine that violates the Minsk agreement. It was Russia itself that completely destroyed the agreement.

The U.S. government said Russia has recently launched cyber-attacks on Ukraine.

The method of disrupting the situation in the region and intervening to “protect” the local people is the same as when Russia forcibly annexed the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine in 2014. Will Putin push ahead with an invasion into Ukraine according to a scenario that the U.S. government has warned about in advance?

What is extremely problematic is that Putin ordered the Russian Defense Ministry to send troops to the “independent states” under the pretext of “peacekeeping functions.”

It has been pointed out that Russian troops have been infiltrating eastern Ukraine in the past, but the formal dispatch of troops is completely different in nature. This is because it will lead to the start of Russia taking direct control of part of the neighboring country, increasing the risk of clashes with Ukrainian government forces.

Russia has also not withdrawn its troops amassed at the border with Ukraine. Russian troops continue to be stationed in Belarus, which also borders Ukraine, even after the final date of joint military exercises. There is no change in Russia’s attitude toward a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The international community must reinforce its unity and resolutely block Moscow’s attempt to use Russia’s military might to bring Ukraine under its control.

The Group of Seven advanced nations centering on the United States need to prepare effective sanctions against Russia, while continuing talks with Moscow to resolve the situation. Japan should also follow suit.

— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on Feb. 23, 2022.