MOSCOW, Feb 22 (Reuters) – Russia has acquired the right to build military bases in Ukraine’s two breakaway regions under treaties signed by President Vladimir Putin with their separatist leaders.
Putin on Monday officially recognised the two breakaway regions – the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic – as independent statelets, defying Western warnings that such a step would be illegal and kill peace negotiations.
Under the two identical friendship treaties, submitted by Putin for ratification by parliament, Russia has the right to build bases in the separatist regions and they, on paper, can do the same in Russia.
The parties commit to defend each other and sign separate agreements on military cooperation and on recognition of each other’s borders.
The border issue is significant because the separatists claim parts of the two regions that are currently under the control of Ukraine. A Russian parliament member and former Donetsk political leader told Reuters last month that the separatists would look to Russia to help them wrest control of these areas.
The 31-point treaties also say Russia and the breakaway statelets will work to integrate their economies. Both of them are former industrial areas in need of massive support to rebuild after eight years of war with Ukrainian government forces.
The 10-year treaties are automatically renewable for further five-year periods unless one of the parties gives notice to withdraw. (Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; writing by Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Stephen Coates)