Kremlin defends its recognition of Ukraine rebel passports

Vladimir Putin, Russia's president, has ordered the government to temporarily recognise identification, education and qualification documents and other certificates as well as auto licence plates issued in the self-declared "people's republics", parts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions that are not under Kiev's control.

In a regular media briefing statement, France's foreign ministry said: "France regrets this decision".

The deal is another attempt at implementing the Minsk peace agreement, which has failed multiple times since it was first partially enforced nearly two years ago.

Dozens have died in the Donbas region in recent weeks amid an escalation in fighting there between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists, especially around Avdiyivka.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said earlier on Tuesday that the decree was signed exclusively in the interests of people and was prompted by humanitarian considerations.

Earlier in the day, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko urged the European Union to toughen sanctions against Russian Federation because of Moscow's recognition of passports issued by the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk republics (DPR, LPR). The discussion took place amid increasingly intense scrutiny of the ties between Trump's team and Russian Federation, as well as escalating investigations on Capitol Hill of the determination by USA intelligence agencies that the Kremlin intervened in last year's election to help Trump. Nationalists joined the protest to support the blockade on coal-producing regions controlled by Russia-backed separatists, RFE said.

Putin on Saturday issued an order for Russian authorities to recognise identity documents, diplomas, birth and marriage certificates and vehicle registration plates issued in the separatist-held regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in east Ukraine. He also knows the reasons for failures in the implementation of the Minsk agreement and that Russian Federation is responsible for those failures.

The Minsk agreement was inked in February 2015.

The clashes came nearly three years to the day since dozens of people were killed in some of the worst violence of Ukraine's Euromaidan protests. More than 9,800 people have died since the conflict began in 2014.

It comes at a hard time for the Minsk agreements following a month of heavy fighting between Ukrainian and Russian-backed separatist forces.

President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, also shrugged off a peace plan that a Ukrainian lawmaker reportedly tried to peddle to U.S. President Donald Trump's administration.

Last week, contact groups involving representatives of the fighting parties surprised observers by agreeing new efforts to stop the violence.

"That was cynically done at a time of the Munich Security Conference", he said, adding that he had informed the US vice-president about the move.

  • Santos West