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By Tom Squitieri

Red Snow News

WASHINGTON —In an hour-long plus rant, Russian President Vladimir Putin bemoaned historical grievances and declared Moscow would recognize the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk, territories in Ukraine controlled by Moscow-backed separatists.

Since the separatists don’t hold all the territory they claim, the recognition is essentially a de facto declaration of war by Putin. Shortly after the speech, the Kremlin published decrees ordering Russia’s defense ministry to deploy “peacekeeping” troops to the two areas in Ukraine.

“Putin just put Kafka & Orwell to shame: no limits to dictator’s imagination, no lows too low, no lies too blatant, no red lines too red to cross,” Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė said. “What we witnessed tonight might seem surreal for democratic world. But the way we respond will define us for the generations to come.”

Putin’s speech made it plain that his problem was never with NATO or possible membership of Ukraine in the organization, It was always about the collapse of the USSR and the independence of Ukraine.

Senior administration officials said it was “a speech to the Russian people to set the stage for war” as Putin engaged in “Potemkin politics…accelerating the very conflict he has created.”

President Biden signed an executive order blocking new U.S. investment, trade, and financing from flowing into two Russian separatist-held regions. The executive order will also give Biden the power to “impose sanctions on any person determined to operate in” the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.

Further measures are to be announced Tuesday and are separate from any actions that will be imposed on Russia should it invade Ukraine