BELGRADE, Serbia

The Western Balkan countries on Tuesday condemned Russia’s recognition of Ukraine’s separatist regions and expressed solidarity with Kyiv.

In a social media post, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said: “We condemn Russia’s recognition of the self-proclaimed regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, which is a violation of international law and the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Together with European Union partners, we express our solidarity with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the people of Ukraine.”

Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic emphasized that his country supports Ukraine. “Russia violates international law by recognizing the ‘Donetsk and Lugansk’ regions,” Djukanovic said.

Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa emphasized that the European Union should offer Ukraine a “full membership perspective.”

“Russia’s recognition of two separatist regions in Ukraine is a blatant violation of international law and the Budapest and Minsk agreements. Slovenia condemns this unlawful act,” Jansa said.

Bosnian Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic said: “We strongly condemn the decision to recognize the independence of parts of the territory of Ukraine. Bosnia and Herzegovina respects its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The latest decision of Russia violates international law and threatens to escalate the crisis.”

Bosniak member of the Presidential Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina Sefik Dzaferovic underlined that his country supports Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

“I condemn Russia’s recognition of the two regions of Ukraine as so-called republics. This is a flagrant violation of international law,” Dzaferovic said.

Milorad Dodik, the Serb member of the Presidency Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina, told Srna news agency that he is following the events in the eastern part of Ukraine with concern and hopes that tensions will decrease.

“We are faced with a new reality that is not limited to security and politics. It will complicate bilateral and multilateral relations. I believe that the pressure on the Republika Srpska Entity will increase,” said Dodik.

Speaking to reporters after meeting French President Emmanuel Macron, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said: “After these events, we expect tension to increase in the Western Balkans as well. Both the political and security structure of the world is collapsing … Our commitment must be firm and strong,” said Vucic.

Russia’s moves

In a speech late Monday, Putin announced the recognition of the separatist regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, also attacking Ukraine’s government and accusing the West of ignoring Moscow’s core security concerns.

Later, he ordered the deployment of Russian troops to “maintain peace” in the breakaway regions.

Putin’s moves have been widely condemned as serious violations of international law, and Western countries have vowed harsh new sanctions.

The US and its European allies have said Russia is setting the stage to invade Ukraine with a buildup of 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. The conflict has taken more than 13,000 lives, according to the UN.

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