KYIV, Ukraine

The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine decided to declare a state of emergency across the entire country, except for the separatist regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, the council chief said on Wednesday.

Oleksiy Danilov said the state of emergency would initially last 30 days and it can be extended up to 60 days if necessary.

The Ukrainian parliament must approve the decision within two days, Danilov said in a statement.

The council’s decision requires parliamentary approval to take effect.

Danilov reminded that practices similar to the state of emergency have already been in place in Ukraine’s breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk since 2014.

Separatists in Donbas claimed two so-called states, the “Donetsk People’s Republic” and “Luhansk People’s Republic,” through a so-called referendum on May 11, 2014.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday announced that Moscow was recognizing two eastern Ukrainian breakaway regions as “independent” states, followed quickly by an order sending Russian forces there to “maintain peace.”

The announcements drew widespread global condemnation as violations of the UN Charter and international law, with Western countries announcing new sanctions on Russia.

In 2014, after invading Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, 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.

Putin’s latest moves follow Russia amassing some 100,000 troops and heavy equipment in and around its neighbor, with the US and Western countries accusing it of setting the stage for an invasion.

Russia has denied it is preparing an invasion and instead claims Western countries undermined its security through NATO’s expansion towards its borders.

* Writing by Zehra Nur Duz in Ankara

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