Ukraine latest: Kiev plans to sever diplomatic ties with Moscow

The Russian State Duma unanimously agreed to recognize the breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine as sovereign states and ratified friendship and mutual aid agreements.

The lower house of parliament voted 400 to zero in favor of the independence of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic.

The agreement did not specify state borders, but Andrey Rudenko, the deputy foreign minister, later told reporters that the republics are recognized “within the border within which they exercise their functions and their jurisdiction,” according to the Interfax news agency.

Meanwhile, Russian officials gave conflicting answers on Tuesday on whether President Putin had recognized the current borders of breakaway states, which make up about a third of Donetsk and Lugansk provinces in eastern Russia. Ukraine, or their claims to the entire Donbass region.

Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, told reporters that Moscow recognizes “the borders within which they exist and within which they have declared [independence]and declined to go into further details.

Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry, said on Tuesday that ratification of the friendship agreement should precede any decision on state borders, according to local media.

Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said Vladimir Putin’s decision on Monday to recognize the two states was a strategic move aimed at restoring peace.

“This is a strategic decision, not only for our country, but for the whole world,” Volodin told the plenary session. “With yesterday’s decision, our president has ended the war, the humanitarian disaster, the conflict. It is not a question of territory, but of the lives and health of millions of citizens.

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