This is a developing news story... Check back for possible updates...\r\n\r\nRussian President Vladimir Putin on Monday formally recognized Donetsk and Luhansk—two self-proclaimed people\u0026#039;s republics in eastern Ukraine—as independent, a move opposed by the leadership of Ukraine and Western powers.\r\n\r\nAfter a lengthy address to the Russian public, Putin signed documents recognizing the Donetsk People\u0026#039;s Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People\u0026#039;s Republic (LPR), which have been subjects of tension and conflict between Russia and Ukraine for nearly a decade. Subsequently, Putin issued separate decrees instructing the nation\u0026#039;s defense ministry to assume \u0022the function of peacekeeping\u0022 in the breakaway regions.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nNo deployment of forces has been determined, but the latest developments only intensified existing tensions over Ukraine.\r\n\r\n\u0022True friends of Ukraine, and of global peace, should be calling for a U.S. and NATO compromise with Russia.\u0022\r\n\r\nPutin\u0026#039;s move came after the Kremlin announced that the Russian leader had notified French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz by phone that he would soon recognize the LPR and DPR.\r\n\r\n\u0022Vladimir Putin informed [Macron and Scholz] 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\u0026#039;s decision on the recognition of the Donetsk and Luhansk People\u0026#039;s Republics,\u0022 the Kremlin said. \u0022Today, 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.\u0022\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nThe Kremlin noted that Macron and Scholz \u0022expressed their disappointment with this development\u0022 but still \u0022indicated their readiness to continue contacts.\u0022 Last week, France\u0026#039;s foreign minister said he would view any recognition of DPR and LPR as \u0022an attack without weapons.\u0022\r\n\r\nIn his address on Monday, Putin denounced Western nations—particularly the United States—for pouring weapons into Ukraine and reiterated his view that Ukraine joining NATO would represent a serious security threat to Russia.\r\n\r\nThe situation is \u0022like having a knife against our throat,\u0022 argued Putin, who said that Russia has \u0022a right to take countermeasures to enhance our own security.\u0022\r\n\r\nFollowing Putin\u0026#039;s announcement, the White Housecalled the move a \u0022blatant violation\u0022 of international agreements signed by Moscow and announced it would move swiftly to impose trade restrictions on the eastern areas of Ukraine.\r\n\r\nIn a statement, press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden would be signing an executive order to \u0022prohibit new investment, trade, and financing by U.S. persons to, from, or in the so-called DNR and LNR regions of Ukraine.\u0022 The statement said the order from Biden would also “provide authority to impose sanctions on any person determined to operate in those areas of Ukraine,\u0022 but stipulated these measures were separate from others that would be imposed against Russia if it was to \u0022further invade\u0022 Ukraine.\r\n\r\nShortly ahead of Putin\u0026#039;s speech, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba characterized the Russian president\u0026#039;s expected move as an escalation but added that \u0022it\u0026#039;s exactly now that we all should calmly focus on de-escalation efforts.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022No other way,\u0022 he wrote on Twitter.\r\n\r\nWriting in the Financial Times on Monday, economist and Columbia University professor Jeffrey D. Sachs put himself among those calling for a diplomatic solution, including an agreement by the U.S. to compromise on NATO expansion.\r\n\r\n\u0022As misguided as the Russian actions are,\u0022 argued Sachs, \u0022American intransigence regarding Nato enlargement is also utterly misguided and risky. True friends of Ukraine, and of global peace, should be calling for a U.S. and NATO compromise with Russia—one that respects Russia\u0026#039;s legitimate security interests while fully backing Ukraine\u0026#039;s sovereignty.\u0022\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nPutin\u0026#039;s decision Monday came shortly after he and Biden—after speaking with Macron—agreed \u0022in principle\u0022 to hold a summit on Ukraine amid global fears of a conflict involving the U.S. and Russia.\r\n\r\nNeither Putin nor Biden committed to a specific date for such a meeting, but the prospect of continued dialogue left open the possibility of averting a war involving two nations that together possess more than 90% of the world\u0026#039;s nuclear weapons.\r\n\r\n\u0022The presidents believe it is important to intensify efforts to find solutions through diplomatic means,\u0022 the Kremlin said following Putin\u0026#039;s conversation with Macron.