Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz held talks in Moscow on February 16. During the meeting, they discussed Russia's initiatives on security guarantees, de-escalation in the Ukraine crisis, etc.
Putin and Scholz Meet for First Time
The talks lasted more than four hours. The German chancellor spoke of the need for “urgent de-escalation” over Ukraine. He expressed his views on the security situation around the “non-independent country” and reported on how European partners see this aspect. At the same time, Scholz underlined the need for Ukraine to implement the Minsk agreements.
“Everyone has to adhere to them,” the German chancellor said, responding to a question about whether Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would implement them.
For his part, Putin stressed that Russia “does not want war,” but Kyiv “persistently ignores” friendly opportunities to restore the integrity of the country and fails to comply with key provisions of the Minsk agreements. According to our estimates, what is happening now in Donbass is called genocide, said the Russian president.
For his part, Scholz said that his visit was taking place during “the most threatening and severe crisis” in many decades in Europe. According to him, the UN citizens are extremely concerned about the fact that 100,000 Russian troops are deployed on the border with Ukraine, and in this tense situation it is important “not to start a war.” According to the Chancellor, our countries “need to communicate” in the conditions that emerged, and the issues of relations between the states have always been solved “through dialogue.”
In addition to discussing issues related to the situation around Ukraine, the talks focused on economic ties between Russia and Germany, as well as the restoration of Deutche Welle broadcasting in Russia. Vladimir Putin and Olaf Scholz met for the first time since the appointment of the latter as Chancellor of Germany. The Russian President said that he saw Olaf Scholz's commitment to further mutually beneficial cooperation between our countries.
Request to recognize the independence of DPR and LPR
The Kremlin received news from the State Duma lower house of Parliament during negotiations between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. The deputies are asking Putin to recognize the independence of the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) and Lugansk People's Republic (LPR.) An overwhelming majority of deputies voted for this document the day before, and its authors emphasize that “for many years,” the DPR residents have been killed by shells and mines that come from the place where the Ukrainian forces are located, but Kyiv refuses to comply with the Minsk agreements. In this connection, steps to protect people are simply “vital.”
Two versions of the document on the possible recognition of the DPR came from two groups of deputies and differ in procedural points. The representatives of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) were the first to propose that the initiative to recognize the LPR and DPR be submitted to the State Duma by Vladimir Putin. They did so back in January, explaining that such a decision would be “substantiated and morally justified.” According to the representatives of the CPRF faction, such a measure would help protect the residents of the republics from “genocide.”
On February 14, the United Russia faction, before addressing the President, suggested that the Foreign Ministry be consulted on the recognition of the DPR and LPR. The text of the appeal itself is “short, but emotional,” and it took five pages, said the deputies. They compare the actions of the Ukrainian authorities with the genocide of their people.
“There is one text of the appeal, but there are two ways to consider it – either to send it directly to Russian President Vladimir Putin or coordinate with the Foreign Ministry first,” the State Duma said.
According to the UN, more than 10,000 people have already been killed and more than 50,000 injured in the Donbass. More than 1.4 million people are displaced in Ukraine, and more than 2.5 million have come to Russia in search of asylum. The discussion of the document on the possible recognition of the DPR and LPR lasted a full hour, and the vote was ranked. The majority of deputies, 351 people, voted in favor of sending an appeal to the president, regardless of the Foreign Ministry, which would have sped up the process. Representatives of different factions with different political views worked on the text. The appeal to the President does not automatically mean that Moscow will recognize the independence of the republics but the legal base for this will already be ready.
Exercises are not Over
Amid all these meetings, talks, and appeals, the Russian Armed Forces completed another stage of military exercises near the borders with Ukraine on the morning of February 15. Units of the Southern and Western Military Districts began to return to their bases. The exercises of Russian troops are not finished there, and all military districts and fleets continue planned maneuvers in other regions, said Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov. “We are just carrying out planned combat training,” said a representative of the Russian military department, “and our troops that participated in the joint verification of the Union State response forces at the Belarusian training ranges are coming home.”
Judging by the official report of the Defense Ministry, some Russian troops remain in Belarus for the time being. So, on February 19, a brigade of Russian marines together with units of the Armed Forces of Belarus with the support of aviation will have to practice three tasks of maneuver defensive combat and carry out firing from different weapons at the Obuz-Lesnovsky training ground.
However, all the tasks were accomplished at the Allied Resoluteness-2022 exercise. These maneuvers demonstrated not only the mobility of the army but also the possibility of rapid reinforcement (if necessary) of the Russian-Belarusian grouping on the western borders.
Colonel in the reserve Igor Korotchenko, editor-in-chief of the magazine National Defense, told the media that it was obvious that the combat readiness of the Russian Armed Forces is now at the highest level in the entire post-Soviet period since 1991. As for the “Western speculations” about the withdrawal of our troops to their places of deployment, there will be a lot of them. There is an information war going on now, so some countries will talk about their victory, according to Korotchenko. The West has already tried to present the movement of Russian troops as some kind of “victory” over Russia, he said. Allegedly, we saved Ukraine, and “Putin backed down” under the pressure of Europe.