Putin delivers an address laced with historical grievances
From CNN's Nathan Hodge and Darya Tarasova
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered lengthy remarks on Soviet history and the formation of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic under Communist rule in the 20th Century.
Here are a few quotes from the remarks:
"Let's start with the fact that modern Ukraine was entirely created by Russia, more precisely, by the Bolshevik, communist Russia. This process began almost immediately after the 1917 revolution," Putin said.
"Then, on the eve and after the Second World War, Stalin already annexed to the USSR and transferred to Ukraine some lands that previously belonged to Poland, Romania and Hungary," Putin said.
"And in 1954, for some reason, Khrushchev took Crimea from Russia and gave it to Ukraine. Actually, this is how the territory of Soviet Ukraine was formed," Putin said.
Putin published a tendentious essay on Ukrainian and Russian history last summer, in what was widely viewed as a pretext for escalating pressure on Ukraine.
3:30 p.m. ET, February 21, 2022
EU foreign policy chief urges Putin to not recognize the independence of separatist republics of Donbas
From CNN's Pierre Bairin
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to not recognize the separatist self-declared republics of Donbas.
"We call upon President Putin to respect international law and the Minsk agreements and expect him not to recognize the independence of the Luhansk and Donetsk Oblast. And we are ready to react with a strong united front in case he should decide to do so,” said Borrell at a press conference on Monday following a meeting of EU’s foreign ministers in Brussels.
Putin informed French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz by phone that he intends to sign a decree "soon" to recognize two breakaway pro-Russian territories — which call themselves the Luhansk and Donetsk People's Republics — the Kremlin said Monday.
“It will be soon, eight years since Russia invaded an illegally annexed Crimea. And they want to repeat when again that any further aggression against Ukraine will have a strong answer from the European Union,” Borrell said.
The EU's top diplomat also said that Russia had created “the biggest threat to peace and stability in Europe since the Second World War.”
“The staged events and information manipulation are clearly aimed at creating a pretext for military escalations against Ukraine. It's a classical way of behaving. You create a pretext for military escalations," Borrell continued.
The EU foreign policy chief said that a strong response from the European Union would also apply to Belarus “should an attack be conducted from its territory or with its involvement.”
1:55 p.m. ET, February 21, 2022
NOW: Putin delivers address
Russian President Vladimir Putin is delivering an address now from Moscow.
The Kremlin said Monday Putin informed French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz by phone that he intends to sign a decree "soon" to recognize the separatist self-declared republics of Donbas.
2:06 p.m. ET, February 21, 2022
Blinken has previously promised a "swift and firm response" if Russia recognizes Ukraine's breakaway regions
From CNN's Kylie Atwood and Jennifer Hansler
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has previously promised “a swift and firm response” from the US and allies and partners if Russia moves to recognize Ukraine’s breakaway regions as part of Russian territory, calling such a move a “gross violation of international law.”
“To be clear: Kremlin approval of this appeal would amount to the Russian government’s wholesale rejection of its commitments under the Minsk agreements, which outline the process for the full political, social, and economic reintegration of those parts of Ukraine’s Donbas region controlled by Russia-led forces and political proxies since 2014,” Blinken said last week when this topic was under discussion in the Russian Duma.
“Enactment of this resolution would further undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, constitute a gross violation of international law, call into further question Russia’s stated commitment to continue to engage in diplomacy to achieve a peaceful resolution of this crisis, and necessitate a swift and firm response from the United States in full coordination with our Allies and partners,” Blinken wrote.
The State Department has not elaborated on what that “swift and firm response” would entail.
The department also did not immediately respond to request for comment about the Kremlin saying that Putin has informed French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that he intends to sign a decree "soon" to recognize the separatist self-declared republics of Donbas.
Blinken also said Sunday that the US would not consider recognizing any of the breakaway territories of eastern Ukraine to be part of Russia as a means to avoid a larger war.
US officials have privately expected that Russia could move to recognize these territories, but they have also said that they do not expect Russia to stop there, based on the massive Russian troop buildup all around Ukraine.
2:05 p.m. ET, February 21, 2022
France's Macron calls national security and defense meeting on Russia-Ukraine crisis
From CNN’s Xiaofei Xu in Paris
French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday called a national defense and security meeting to address the latest developments on the Russia-Ukraine crisis, according to the Elysee Palace. The meeting started at 7 p.m. local time (1 p.m. ET) Monday.
Macron on Monday has spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, twice with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
“There will be other contacts in the evening,” the Elysee Palace said.
2:14 p.m. ET, February 21, 2022
Putin told Scholz and Macron he intends to sign decree recognizing separatist-held regions, Kremlin says
From CNN's Darya Tarasova and Nathan Hodge in Moscow
Russian President Vladimir Putin informed French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz by phone that he intends to sign a decree "soon" to recognize the separatist self-declared republics of Donbas, the Kremlin said Monday.
"Vladimir Putin informed them about the results of the expanded meeting of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, which considered the current situation around Donbas in the context of the State Duma's decision on the recognition of the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics," the Kremlin statement said. "Today, the leadership of the DPR and LPR received appeals to recognize their sovereignty in connection with the military aggression of the Ukrainian authorities, the massive shelling of the territory of Donbas, as a result of which the civilian population is suffering."
Putin said that he intended to sign a corresponding decree soon, the Kremlin added.
According to the Kremlin readout, the French and German leaders "expressed their disappointment with this development. At the same time, they indicated their readiness to continue contacts."
More background: The separatist-controlled areas in Donbas are known as the Luhansk People's Republic (LPR) and the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR).
The Ukrainian government in Kyiv asserts the two regions are in effect Russian-occupied. The self-declared republics are not recognized by any government, including Russia. The Ukrainian government refuses to talk directly with either separatist republic.
Read more here about the separatist regions and why they are at the heart of the Ukraine-Russia crisis.
Here's a map showing where the separatist regions are located:
1:27 p.m. ET, February 21, 2022
President Biden is monitoring developments coming out of Putin's national security meeting
From CNN's Kevin Liptak
President Biden has been monitoring developments emerging from Russian President Vladimir Putin's national security meeting Monday, according to aides, as he confers with his own top officials about the Ukraine crisis.
Top officials from the United States — including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, and CIA Director Bill Burns — have all been seen arriving at the White House on Monday, despite the fact it's a federal holiday.
Vice President Kamala Harris, who returned Sunday evening from the Munich Security Conference, is also at the White House.
President Biden was not expected to appear in public.
During overnight hours officials from the US downplayed the likelihood of a summit between Biden and Putin, saying that the prospect of a Russian invasion into Ukraine would make such a meeting unlikely. Additionally, it's been noted that there's been no work done on location, format, or timing of a summit.
National security adviser Jake Sullivan has warned that Russia could be preparing for a conflict even more brutal than some initial estimates.
"We believe that any military operation of this size, scope, and magnitude of what we believe the Russians are planning will be extremely violent. It will cost the lives of Ukrainians and Russians, civilians and military personnel alike," said Sullivan, who appeared Monday on NBC's "Today Show."
"But we also have intelligence to suggest that there will be an even greater form of brutality because this will not simply be some conventional war between two armies: It will be a war waged by Russia on the Ukrainian people, to repress them, to crush them, to harm them," Sullivan continued.
Speaking on ABC, Sullivan shared that, "all signs look like President Putin and the Russians are proceeding with a plan to execute a major military invasion of Ukraine, making clear that an attack could begin at any moment and the step toward invasion were underway."
1:12 p.m. ET, February 21, 2022
Israel says it is moving Kyiv embassy activities to Lviv "following situation assessment"
From CNN's Hadas Gold in Jerusalem
Israel’s Foreign Ministry Yair Lapid announced on Monday that “following situation assessment” and after “discussions with various international actors," he has decided to instruct staff at the Israeli Embassy in Kyiv to move to consular offices opened in Lviv in western Ukraine.
“The consular office in Lviv has been working to provide travel documents to Israeli citizens since Thursday (17/02/2022) and will assist citizens interested in leaving the country, primarily through land border crossings to neighbouring countries,” the Israeli Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The ministry added that the “Foreign Ministry is prepared for any development, including the possibility of a land exit. Within this framework, Israeli diplomats stationed in Lviv as well as those serving in Poland, Slovakia, Romania, Moldova, and Hungary have held visits to border crossings with Ukraine, and meetings with the authorities at the crossings, in order to ensure the passage of Israeli citizens who wish to leave Ukraine.”
1:19 p.m. ET, February 21, 2022
Putin expected to deliver an address soon, Russian state news agencies report
From CNN's Nathan Hodge in Moscow
Russian President Vladimir Putin will deliver an address soon, Russian state news agencies reported Monday.
The agencies in Russia have cited both Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov as well as a banner on state television.
Putin said earlier Monday he was considering a request from pro-Russian separatist leaders in eastern Ukraine's breakaway regions to recognize them as independent.