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Recently the DPR and the LPR declared their independence which Russia recognized. This declaration and subsequent recognition are not seen as legitimate by the international community. Is there a specific reason or provision under the Minsk agreements that prevent these autonomous regions from declaring their independence?

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The DPR and LPR declared their independence in 2014, it is their recognition by Russia in particular that has led to accusations of a breach of the 2015 Minsk agreements by the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and others. The specific point in the Minsk agreements which Russia has been accused of violating is paragraph nine, which commits the signatories to respecting the territorial integrity of Ukraine:

Reinstatement of full control of the state border by the government of Ukraine throughout the conflict area, starting on day 1 after the local elections and ending after the comprehensive political settlement (local elections in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions on the basis of the Law of Ukraine and constitutional reform) to be finalized by the end of 2015, provided that paragraph 11 has been implemented in consultation with and upon agreement by representatives of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the framework of the Trilateral Contact Group.

This point, and the Minsk agreements in general, were signed by representatives from Ukraine, Russia and OSCE, as well as separatist leaders. They were also unanimously endorsed by the UN Security Council in Resolution 2202, in which President Putin, along with the presidents of France & Ukraine, and the German Chancellor, reaffirmed "their full respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine."

Russia does not deny that its recognition of the republics is a breach of the Minsk agreements - instead, President Putin argued on February 22nd that Ukraine has not fulfilled its own obligations in the agreements, and as such Minsk was already 'dead':

As it was said yesterday during the Security Council meeting, over all these years, the efforts of the current Kiev authorities reduced it all to naught. So, the Minsk agreements were dead long before yesterday’s recognition of the people’s republics of Donbass. They were killed not by us and not by the representatives of these republics, but by the current Kiev authorities.

In fact, yesterday's event – the recognition of these republics – was dictated precisely by the fact that the Ukrainian leadership had publicly declared that they were not going to abide by these agreements. Not going to abide by them. Well, what else can you say to that? The top officials have publicly said so.

In addition, speaking on February 16th, after the State Duma requested that President Putin recognise the Republics' independence, his spokesman Dmitry Peskov noted that Putin was aware that such a recognition would violate the agreements:

"There are no clear rules in this regard," he said in response to a question from TASS about steps that might follow the State Duma’s request. "The president has received the request, he reacted to it, he took it into account," Peskov assured. He emphasized, however, that "the recognition [of the DPR and LPR] is not in line with the Minsk Agreements." "This is indeed the case," the press secretary noted.

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