Ukraine on Tuesday called for "harsh" sanctions on Russia after Moscow’s move to recognize Ukraine’s separatist regions of Luhansk and Donetsk as “independent states.”
"The Russian Federation’s next decisions and moves depend greatly on global reactions to today’s developments. We therefore insist on application against Russia of harsh sanctions to send a clear signal of inadmissibility of further escalation," a Foreign Ministry statement said.
Condemning Russia's decision, the ministry said: "The Russian side has blatantly defied the fundamental norms and principles of international law, the UN Charter, violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders."
It said that the Russian move will have no legal implications, adding it “sharply escalates the situation and can mean the Russian Federation’s unilateral withdrawal from the Minsk agreements.”
Meanwhile, stressing Ukraine's commitment for the instruments of diplomacy to avert the expansion of the armed conflict, it said: "We are taking into account all the risks and not giving in to the provocations as we remain committed to politico-diplomatic settlement of the Russian-Ukrainian armed conflict."
It went on to say: "The time has come to act in order to stop Russian aggression and restore peace and stability in Europe."
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Russia’s recognition of the regions in a speech on Monday in which he also attacked Ukraine’s government and the US and accused the West of ignoring Moscow's core security concerns.
Along with Russia’s military buildup, tensions have recently risen dramatically in eastern Ukraine, with reports of a growing number of cease-fire violations, multiple shelling incidents, and the evacuation of civilians from the pro-Russian separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.
The US and its European allies have said that Russia is setting the stage to invade Ukraine after having amassed over 100,000 troops and heavy equipment in and around its neighbor.
Russia has denied that it is preparing to invade and instead accuses Western countries of undermining its security through NATO’s expansion toward its borders.
In 2014, Moscow began supporting separatist forces in eastern Ukraine against the central government, a policy that it has maintained since then. The conflict has taken more than 13,000 lives, according to the UN.