President Putin orders Russian troops into eastern Ukraine

The Kremlin says President Vladimir Putin is ordering Russian forces to “maintain peace” in eastern Ukraine.

The prime minister will chair a Cobra meeting on Tuesday morning to discuss the latest developments, Downing Street said.

The meeting, which is scheduled to take place at 6.30am, will be used to “coordinate the UK response”, including agreeing a “significant package of sanctions to be introduced immediately”, according to a No 10 spokesperson.

It comes after Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the UK will announce new sanctions against Russia on Tuesday “in response to their breach of international law and attack on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, signs a document recognising the independence of separatist regions in eastern Ukraine with Denis Pushilin, the leader of the Donetsk People's Republic controlled by Russia-backed separatistsm centre, and Leonid Pasechnik, acting leader of self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republics, left, in the Kremlin on Monday (Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

According to reports in Russia, the “peacekeeping operation” is in two regions which the Russian president earlier said he would recognise as breakaway republics.

A No 10 spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister will chair a COBR at 0630 tomorrow morning to discuss the latest developments in Ukraine and to coordinate the UK response including agreeing a significant package of sanctions to be introduced immediately.”

Vladimir Putin’s decision to recognise two breakaway republics in eastern Ukraine has “dangerous parallels” to Nazi Germany’s actions prior to the Second World War, the Commons has heard.

Conservative MP Sir Bill Cash (Stone) said: “This evening Mr Putin has recognised the two separatist regions in Ukraine as independent states with dangerous parallels to Germany’s recognition of the Sudetenland in 1938.”

People wave Russian national flags to celebrate the recognising its independence, in Donetsk, the territory controlled by pro-Russian militants, eastern Ukraine, late Monday (AP Photo/Alexei Alexandrov)

Sir Bill suggested a further statement to Parliament is required from the UK Government in response to changes in the Ukrainian situation.

Ireland’s minister of foreign affairs, Simon Coveney, issued a strong statement on the decision of the Russian Federation to recognise the separatist territories in Ukraine.

“Ireland’s support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders and its right to choose its own foreign and security policy path is unwavering,” he said.

“The decision by the Russian Federation to proceed with the recognition of the non-government controlled areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of Ukraine as independent entities contravenes international law, is a blatant violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, and marks a clear and unilateral breach of the Minsk agreements.

“Ireland supports a clear and strong EU response, including additional sanctions measures.”

A Royal Navy destroyer that was due to deploy to the Mediterranean amid tensions with Russia has suffered a technical defect, delaying its departure, the PA news agency understands.

HMS Diamond was due to leave its home base of Portsmouth on February 17, but its departure was initially delayed due to Storm Eunice.

The Type 45 destroyer has now experienced a small defect and is expected to leave on Wednesday, almost one week after it was planned to.

The delay to HMS Diamond leaving Portsmouth means all six of the UK’s Type 45 destroyers remain in port, with four vessels in Portsmouth and two in Birkenhead.

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: “HMS Diamond is continuing preparations for her planned operational tasking, in line with previous announcements, including undertaking a minor repair alongside.”

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