Russian President in a decree recognizes the territories of Donetsk and Luhansk in south-east Ukraine as independent states.

Iran PressEurope: The Kremlin announced the decision on Monday evening.

“I deem it necessary to make a decision that should have been made a long time ago – to immediately recognize the independence and sovereignty of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic,” Putin said in a televised address.

Earlier, Putin told France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Olaf Scholz in advance that he planned to recognise the Russia-backed Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics as independent states on Monday. The two leaders expressed “disappointment” at the decision, according to a Kremlin readout.

Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Ukrainian forces of killing civilians by shelling residential areas in separatist-held eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine has denied targeting civilians and accuses Russia-backed separatists of shelling residential areas, something they in turn deny.

Putin: Ukraine seeks to build nuclear weapons

Vladimir Putin says Ukraine plans to build its own nuclear weapons, calling it an unacceptable move for Moscow.

In a televised address, Putin claimed Ukraine sought to achieve it by using Soviet technology.

Vladimir Putin also ordered the deployment of Russian peacekeeping forces in Luhansk and Donetsk.