Kosovo Set Donbas Precedent, Putin Tells UN Secretary-General

Russia’s move to recognize Ukraine’s breakaway republics of Donetsk and Lugansk was based on the Kosovo precedent, set up by an UN-backed court, Russian President Vladimir Putin told UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres he hosted in on Tuesday the Kremlin for talks revolving around the Ukrainian crisis.

Putin reiterated the International Court of Justice’s decision stating that the territory of any state is not obliged to apply for permission to declare its sovereignty to the central authorities of the country in exercising the right to self-determination.

Both breakaway republics emerged after Ukraine’s Donbas region rejected the Western-backed 2014 Maidan after which the post-coup Kyiv government opted for a military solution that led to the eight-year standoff in the East region.

Considering the fact that Kosovo received wide recognition in the West Putin underscored again the existence of the legal precedent as Guterres pointed out that the UN itself is still viewing Kosovo as a part of Serbia and does not recognize it as an independent entity.

The Russian president pointed out that Moscow did the same with respect to the republics of the Donbas with what the West has done with respect to Kosovo, adding that the republics subsequently Russia for military assistance, which Moscow provided in full compliance with the UN Charter.

Discussing the situation on the ground, Putin explained to Guterres Moscow’s reasons for launching its military operation against Ukraine in late February, noting that he still hopes for negotiations to end the conflict in Ukraine and that they’ll be able to reach agreements on the diplomatic track.

With regard to the humanitarian situation on the ground in Ukraine, Guterres noted that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was ready to aid in evacuating civilians trapped together with the Ukrainian fighters at the Azovstal steel plant in the besieged city of Mariupol.

Putin agreed in principle to UN and Red Cross involvement in the evacuation, reiterating the fact that the Russian forces had offered humanitarian corridors but Ukrainian fighters in the plant are using civilians as shields and not allowing them to leave.

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