BIG NEWS TODAY.
- Putin announced that Russia is pulling back its approximately 40,000 troops back from the Ukrainian border, “[i]n what appeared to be a breakthrough in the worst crisis between East and West since the Cold War,” according to Reuters.
- Putin “called on pro-Moscow separatists in Ukraine to postpone a vote on secession just five days before it was to be held, potentially pulling Ukraine back from the brink of dismemberment.” The referendum was planned “by pro-Russian rebels seeking independence for two provinces with 6.5 million people and around a third of Ukraine’s industrial output.”
These two announcements come one day after Russia’s Finance Minister predicted that the Russian economy would officially slide into a recession after likely shrinks for the second consecutive quarter. These moves will likely shield Russia from further and even more crippling sanctions.
It remains to be seen if the separatists will heed Putin’s request and delay the vote. One leader, Denis Pushilin, said, “We have the utmost respect for President Putin. If he considers that necessary, we will of course discuss it.” We will see. But this is just one voice. Pro-Russian activists in Ukraine have also purported their right to hold a referendum, given the fact that Ukraine is officially a democracy.
Of course, more developments are sure to come and we will be keeping WATCH with you.