Vladimir Putin on Monday signed a decree recognising the independence of the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, further fuelling fears he is planning to invade his neighbour. Sir Andrew Wood, Britain’s former ambassador to Russia, claimed the President’s own advisers are “trembling with fears” over his plans for Ukraine. And he branded claims of genocide against the population of Donbass as “somewhat deluded”.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Sir Andrew said: “I’m not surprised and we certainly should be concerned.
“It was very illustrative watching President Putin talk with his so-called colleagues and watch them tremble before him.
“He was also revealing the extent to which he is somewhat deluded.
“He spoke about genocide and so on and so forth, all which is absolutely not true but perhaps he is persuaded in his mind something like that is true.”
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He continued: “In any case, I don’t think this is only an introduction to a situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, I think it’s more than that.
“I think the intention is to essentially break up the Ukrainian state.
“What he wants is to control whatever Ukraine decides in the international arena and to reverse its move towards a more democratic and what we would think as a normal country.”
Up until last week, Russia maintained it had no plan to invade Ukraine but that troops massed on the border were the result of fears its neighbour would seek to join NATO.
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Following the decree on Monday however, Russian troops were reported to have entered Luhansk and Donetsk to provide support to pro-Kremlin rebels.