Putin’s End Game? Or Pretext? Russia’s lower house of parliament has voted to ask leader Vladimir Putin to recognize two Russian-backed breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine as independent. The long-anticipated move by the lower house of the State Duma, if approved, could serve as a pretext or be part of Putin’s Ukraine end game.
This coincides with the reported mass evacuation of civilians by Russian backed Ukrainian separatists from these regions.
Pro-Russian separatist leaders in eastern Ukraine ordered the mass evacuation of women, children and elderly civilians to Russia on Friday, alleging that Ukraine was preparing a military offensive. Ukraine immediately denied the accusations.
Why it matters: U.S. officials have warned that Russia is preparing to manufacture a pretext to invade Ukraine in the coming days, and that it could take the form of a fabricated escalation in territory controlled by separatists.
The latest: Russian media reported that a vehicle belonging to a separatist security chief was targeted in an alleged car bombing, but that no one was harmed.
Denis Pushilin, the head of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), told Russian media that the situation was “unfortunately” moving toward “major war.”
A State Department spokesperson called the explosion and evacuation “further attempts to obscure through lies and disinformation that Russia is the aggressor in this conflict.”
Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence Agency accused Russia’s security services of placing mines near unspecified “infrastructure facilities” in Donetsk in an attempt to fabricate “terrorist attacks” that would be blamed on Ukraine. ADN