Russia is not planning to send troops to eastern Ukraine "for now" but will do so in case of a "threat", a foreign ministry official said Tuesday after Moscow's parliament ratified cooperation deals with Ukraine's separatist republics.
Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko said the treaties include the provision of "military aid" but added that "speculation" on troop deployments should be avoided. "For now, no one is planning to send anything anywhere. If there is a threat, then we will provide assistance in accordance with the ratified treaties."
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Russia's military to act as peacekeepers in the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk regions late on Monday, just hours after he recognised them as independent.
The recognition opened the door for direct Russian military involvement. Moscow provided no details or date for any deployment, with the order only saying that it "comes into force from the day it was signed".
Russia has moved tens of thousands of soldiers to regions near Ukraine's borders, with the West fearing Moscow could use them for an attack at any moment.
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