On 21 February 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed decrees formally recognizing the independence of the separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, both located in southeastern Ukraine. The edicts include mutual aid, cooperation and friendship agreements for both breakaway regions. The Russian parliament is now expected to ratify new legislation introduced on 22 February to formalize the decrees. Following Russia’s recognition of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states, Putin ordered the Russian Defense Ministry to deploy troops to the rebel-held territories. The Russian government has yet to confirm the deployment of its military, although Western leaders stated that Russian troops have already moved into the separatist regions. In response to Russia’s actions, Western governments have announced various sanctions against the country. Most notably, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz halted the approval process for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline until further notice. The Russia-operated gas pipeline, which runs through Germany, cost 10 billion euros (11 billion U.S. dollars) to build and would provide more than 25% of total natural gas supply to Europe if operable.