Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday announced he would sign a declaration creating two new countries out of territory in eastern Ukraine.
Russia claims its move will create the new countries of Luhansk and Donetsk in the Donbas region of Ukraine.
In advance of a late-night speech by the Russian strongman, state media reported Putin informed German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron of the coming announcement.
"Vladimir Putin informed them about the results of the expanded meeting of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, which considered the current situation around Donbas in the context of the State Duma's decision on the recognition of the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics," the Kremlin statement said, according to CNN. "Today, the leadership of the DPR and LPR received appeals to recognize their sovereignty in connection with the military aggression of the Ukrainian authorities, the massive shelling of the territory of Donbas, as a result of which the civilian population is suffering."
On Monday, Putin held a televised meeting of his Security Council. He promised to announce his decision by the end of the day but did not address the world until after 9 p.m. in Moscow.
"The United States and its allies have worried that if Moscow recognizes the two enclaves, in the region known as the Donbas, it could open the door for Russia to move more forces into Ukraine. U.S. officials estimate that Russia has amassed 190,000 troops in and around Ukraine, including in the Donbas, where a long-running trench war between Ukrainian forces and the Russia-backed rebels has reignited in recent days," The New York Times reported. "The announcement that he was open to consider discussing a possible recognition of the two areas came after the United States said such a move would be a violation of a peace settlement with the self-declared territories."