It is unclear exactly which borders Russia recognizes from the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics in eastern Ukraine. Moreover, statements from various Russian government agencies seem to contradict each other.
On Monday, President Vladimir Putin declared the separatist republics independent.
According to Interfax, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported that Moscow recognizes the area where the separatists now control and exercise authority. However, a Kremlin spokesman later said it was the much larger territory claimed by the pro-Russian republics since they unilaterally seceded from Ukraine in 2014.
The separatists now control about 30 percent of the ‘provinces’ of Donetsk and Luhansk. Their self-proclaimed republics do claim the entire territory. In case the borders are interpreted broadly, Russia could also send military personnel to areas in the Donbas region where the separatists are not currently in control.
When the republics were recognized, it was not immediately clear which borders Russia would use. Even a day later, there is still uncertainty about this. Shortly after the official recognition decision was made, Putin announced that he would send Russian soldiers there for a so-called peacekeeping mission. In eastern Ukraine, a civil war has been raging between the separatists and the Ukrainian government since 2014.