Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has reacted cautiously to the Russian recognition of the "people's republics" in eastern Ukraine as independent states.

"We are loyal to the peaceful and diplomatic path and will only go this way," Zelenskyj said in a speech on Tuesday night.

At the same time, the 44-year-old emphasized: "Recognition of the independence of the occupied districts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions can mean unilateral withdrawal from the Minsk agreements." Kiev will not react to provocations - but will not give up any territory either.

Ukraine has requested special sessions of the UN Security Council and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Zelesnkyj said.

She also wants a summit in the so-called Normandy format with Germany, France and Russia.

"We expect clear and effective steps of support from our partners," stressed the Ukrainian head of state.

Now it will become clear who is a “real friend and partner” – and who just wants to continue to scare Russia with words.

Kiev has only one dream: "Peace in Ukraine." Zelenskyy emphasized: "There are no reasons for chaotic actions now." There are no reasons to have sleepless nights.

Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized the independence of the eastern Ukrainian "People's Republics" of Donetsk and Luhansk.

The Kremlin chief also ordered Russian soldiers to be sent to eastern Ukraine.

The EU and the USA immediately announced sanctions.