Vladimir Putin orders troops into eastern Ukraine

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Vladimir Putin orders troops into eastern Ukraine

Vladimir Putin has ordered Russian troops to “maintain peace” in two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine, hours after the Russian president recognised Donetsk and Luhansk as independent entities.

In two official decrees, Putin on Monday instructed the country’s defence ministry to assume “the function of maintaining peace” in the eastern regions.

Putin said he had deemed “it necessary to make a decision that should have been made a long time ago – to immediately recognise the independence and sovereignty of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic”.

Several airlines including Air France and Lufthansa have suspended flights to Ukraine over invasion fears.

Meanwhile US ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield has condemned Russia’s decision to recognise the two rebel-held territories in eastern Ukraine, warning that the consequences will be dire across Ukraine, Europe and worldwide.