Putin Recognizes Russian-Occupied Eastern Ukraine and Deploys Forces, Raising Risk of All-Out War

February 22, 2022Nolan Peterson
putin all-out war

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Feb. 21, 2022, he would make a decision “today” on recognizing the independence of east Ukraine’s rebel republics, after Russia’s top officials made impassioned speeches in favor of the move. Photo by ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images.

KYIV, Ukraine — After nearly eight years of undeclared war against Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed decrees on Monday, Feb. 21, recognizing Russian-occupied territory in eastern Ukraine as two independent states. Putin also authorized Russian military forces to openly deploy into Ukraine’s Donbas territories “for peacekeeping functions.”

Today’s developments have pushed Moscow’s ongoing military pressure against Ukraine to the absolute brink of all-out war. At this point, one military flare-up between Ukrainian and Russian regulars — whether in reality or as part of a Russian propaganda operation — would give Moscow a pretense to justify launching a full-scale invasion. 

In a rambling, emotional, and at times spiteful speech that was full of false history (including diatribes about Bolshevik Russia), Putin challenged Ukraine’s right to sovereign statehood Monday evening. Putin’s declaration that Russia would recognize the occupied territories was a major move that drew immediate condemnation from Ukraine and the West. More troubling, however, were Putin’s statements that seemed to lay the groundwork for a full-blown offensive against Ukraine — possibly to dismember the country, or at the very least, to overthrow the government in Kyiv.

putin deploys forces
The trenches in eastern Ukraine are similar to those of World War I, albeit on a much smaller scale, and with a high-tech edge. Photo by Nolan Peterson/Coffee or Die Magazine.

“Modern Ukraine was entirely created by Russia — more precisely, Bolshevik, communist Russia. This process began immediately after the revolution of 1917,” Putin said. “And now grateful descendants have demolished monuments to Lenin in Ukraine. This is what they call decommunization. Do you want decommunization? Well, that suits us just fine. But it is unnecessary, as they say, to stop halfway. We are ready to show you what real decommunisation means for Ukraine.”

In 2015, following Russia’s invasion of Ukrainian territory in Crimea and the eastern Donbas region, Ukraine implemented so-called decommunization laws to expunge the country of symbols of its Soviet past. Among the measures, all statues of Vladimir Lenin were taken down.

On social media, many Ukrainians equated Putin’s Monday speech to a declaration of war. 

“Looks like a war,” prominent Ukrainian war reporter Sergiy Karazy wrote on Facebook.

Immediately after Putin’s speech, the White House announced new financial restrictions against the dual breakaway regions in Russian-occupied eastern Ukraine. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also condemned the move.

“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 said.

putin deploys forces
The town of Pisky in eastern Ukraine has been laid waste by years of fighting. Photo by Nolan Peterson/Coffee or Die Magazinee.

Throughout Saturday night, videos flooded onto social media channels purporting to show Russian armored units massing at various locations within only a few miles of Ukraine’s borders. Other videos show Iskander ballistic missile systems moving into areas within striking distance of Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital city, adding to the already formidable shadow of missile threats that extends over much of Ukraine’s territory.

According to US intelligence assessments, Russia now has the weaponry and manpower in place to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine at any time. In recent days, as fighting has flared in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas war zone, Russia has forward-positioned its offensive forces in attack positions just a few miles from Ukraine’s borders. An attack could now come at any time, and Kyiv is a likely target, US officials say. The ultimate goal of such a wide-scale attack would be to overthrow the democratically elected government of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and establish a Kremlin-friendly puppet regime.

The US government also recently reported that Russia’s invasion plan will include a pogrom to assassinate and imprison prominent Ukrainians and other opposition figures who might resist a puppet regime installed in Kyiv by Moscow in the aftermath of an invasion.

Read Next: US Warns of False Flag as ‘Centralized Evacuation’ of Civilians Ordered in Russian-Occupied Eastern Ukraine

Nolan Peterson
Nolan Peterson
Nolan Peterson is a senior editor for Coffee or Die Magazine and the author of Why Soldiers Miss War. A former US Air Force special operations pilot and a veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Nolan is now a conflict journalist and author whose adventures have taken him to all seven continents. In addition to his memoirs, Nolan has published two fiction collections. He lives in Kyiv, Ukraine, with his wife, Lilya.
More from Coffee or Die Magazine
‘The Gift’ Explores the Life and Legacy of Medal of Honor Recipient Jason Dunham

"The Gift" tells the story of the first Marine to receive the Medal of Honor after the Vietnam War. ...

March 24, 2023Mac Caltrider
uss milius
US Denies Chinese Claim It Drove Away American Destroyer

The U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet said that a statement from China's Southern Theatre Command that it had fo...

March 23, 2023Associated Press
The Speed Project: Vet Team To Run in Lawless, Invite-Only Ultramarathon

For the first time, a team of (mostly) US veterans and active-duty service members will run in The S...

March 23, 2023Jenna Biter
uranium-based ammo ammunition Ukraine UK depleted uranium
A Look At the Uranium-Based Ammo the UK Will Send to Ukraine

The British defense ministry on Monday confirmed it would provide Ukraine with armor-piercing rounds containing depleted uranium.

March 23, 2023Associated Press
Zaporizhzhia Ukraine Russia
Ukraine: Russia Hits Apartments and Dorm, Killing Civilians

“Russia is shelling the city with bestial savagery,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote in a Telegr...

March 22, 2023Associated Press
cold brew coffee soda float
The Bitter Barista's Cold Brew Coffee Soda Float

Today, we combine the best of both worlds with this indulgent recipe, smashing together our love of coffee and ice cream with a cold brew coffee soda float!

March 21, 2023Heather Lynn
abrams tanks ukraine
US Speeds Up Abrams Tank Delivery to Ukraine War Zone

The original plan was to send Ukraine 31 of the newer M1A2 Abrams, which could have taken a year or ...

March 21, 2023Associated Press
Coffee Or Die Photo
US: War Crimes on All Sides in Ethiopia's Tigray Conflict

The Biden administration announced Monday that it has determined all sides in the brutal conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

March 20, 2023Associated Press
  • About Us
  • Privacy Policy
  • Careers
Contact Us
  • Request a Correction
  • Write for Us
  • General Inquiries
© 2023 Coffee or Die Magazine. All Rights Reserved