25 February 2022
On 21 February 2022, Russian President Putin announced Russia would formally recognise the areas of the Donbas under the control of Russianbacked separatist forces, as independent sovereign states. President Putin then signed Executive Orders recognising the self-declared independence of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR). Russia then signed Treaties of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance with the leaders of those regions. Russia also announced it would deploy forces to undertake “peacekeeping” in the DPR and LPR. On 24 February, Putin announced the beginning of a “military operation” in Ukraine. While Putin said it was a special military operation in Donbas and Russia would not occupy Ukraine, the Ukrainian Government has said Russia has begun a full scale assault on the country. Russia’s actions have been met with international condemnation and Western nations, including the UK and the US are in the process of imposing a package of sanctions. The German Government has announced that certification of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline will be suspended. This briefing outlines the international legal framework that applies to Russia’s recognition of the self-declared independent areas, and international law related to these developments.