Russia announced an agreement to move its troops into the Donbass region in Ukraine. According to state-run media RT.com Russia struck a deal with Ukraine to move military equipment and troops into the breakaway region.
Russia Today reported:
While Russia has struck a deal that enables it to deploy troops and military hardware on a long-term basis to sites across the Donbass, at present it has no concrete plans to establish installations in the newly recognized Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, Moscow has revealed, despite speculation its troops are already there.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko explained what moves his country’s armed forces are considering taking in the region.
“So far, there hasn’t been any talk about setting up bases” he said. “But if necessary, we will do everything that needs to be done. The agreement stipulates that,” he said.
His comments come shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree officially recognizing the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics as sovereign nations. Following the Kremlin’s affirmation of their independence, Putin ordered the Russian armed forces to “secure the peace” in the newly recognized Donbass republics. Within hours, unconfirmed reports and videos emerged purporting to show Russian troops moving across the border.
Under the terms of a friendship and co-operation deal ratified by the parliaments of the two breakaway regions on Tuesday, Moscow can establish military bases on their territory. However, Ukraine and many Western nations accuse Moscow of having sent troops to the region in 2014 and maintaining a military presence there since then. On Tuesday, the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, claimed that deployments of Russian troops had begun crossing the border shortly after the decision to grant thm recognition.
The leaders of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, Denis Pushilin and Leonid Pasechnik, formally appealed to Putin to proclaim them sovereign nations amid reports of heavy shelling between the two breakaway regions and Ukraine’s armed forces. Last week, the two regional chiefs announced that they had begun evacuating civilians to Russia, citing a sharp spike in hostilities, and ordered the mobilization of all able-bodied men to be ready to take up arms in a potential conflict.