Russia’s recognition of Ukraine’s separatist regions as independent states “is a violation of the UN Charter” and flouts efforts to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine, Britain’s foreign secretary said Monday.

In a statement on Twitter, Liz Truss said: “President Putin’s recognition of the ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ and ‘Luhansk People’s Republic’ as independent states shows flagrant disregard for Russia’s commitments under the Minsk agreement,” referring to a 2014 protocol seeking to end the conflict in Donbas, eastern Ukraine.

Truss said that this step “represents a further attack on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, signals an end to the Minsk process and is a violation of the UN Charter.”

“It demonstrates Russia’s decision to choose a path of confrontation over dialogue,” she added.

“We will coordinate our response with Allies. We will not allow Russia’s violation of its international commitments to go unpunished,” she warned, signaling a unified response to Kremlin’s move.

Speaking to reporters earlier Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that recognizing the self-declared republics in eastern Ukraine would be “plainly in breach of international law.”

He called recognition “a flagrant violation of the sovereignty and integrity of Ukraine,” a repudiation of the 2014 Minsk agreements on Donbas, and “a very dark sign.”

Rising tensions

Putin announced recognition of the regions in a speech Monday that 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 evacuation of civilians from the pro-Russian separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

The US, with its European allies, has said 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 it is preparing to invade and instead accuses Western countries of undermining its security through NATO’s expansion towards its borders.

In 2014, Moscow began to support separatist forces in eastern Ukraine against the central government, a policy that it has maintained for the past seven years. The conflict has taken more than 13,000 lives, according to the UN.

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