• REUTERS, AFP-JIJI, KYODO

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Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine as independent on Monday and ordered the Russian military to launch what Moscow called a peacekeeping operation into the area, accelerating a crisis the West fears could unleash a major war.

Putin’s announcement drew international condemnation and immediate targeted U.S. sanctions to halt American business activity in the breakaway regions and ban import of all goods from those areas.

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