Street celebrations broke out in breakaway republics, which Ukraine claims as its own territory, late on Monday after President Vladimir Putin said Moscow will “immediately recognize the Donetsk (DPR) and Lugansk (LPR) People’s Republics.”
Footage from the scene shows fireworks lighting up the skies above Donetsk, which has been the capital of the DPR for nearly eight years.
Groups of people gathered in the streets, displaying Russia’s flags and cheering Moscow’s move, another video shows.
Celebrations began in Lugansk as well, with a large column of cars spotted driving through the city with the flags of the breakaway republics and Russia on display.
Putin’s decision comes amid the ongoing escalation between the Ukrainian forces and the two breakaway republics. Since Thursday, both the DPR and LPR have reported heavy shelling by Kiev’s forces, as well as multiple incidents they’ve branded “terrorist” attacks on infrastructure by Ukrainian saboteurs. Top officials of the two republics alleged the escalation looked like a prelude for an all-out assault by Kiev.