Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a Security Council meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Feb. 21, 2022. Putin has convened top officials to consider recognizing the independence of separatist regions in eastern Ukraine. Such a move would ratchet up tensions with the West amid fears that the Kremlin could launch an invasion of Ukraine imminently. (Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
People wave Russian national flags celebrating the recognizing the independence in the center of Donetsk, the territory controlled by pro-Russian militants, eastern Ukraine, late Monday. In a fast-moving political theater, Russian President Vladimir Putin has moved quickly to recognize the independence of separatist regions in eastern Ukraine in a show of defiance against the West amid fears of Russian invasion in Ukraine. (AP Photo/Alexei Alexandrov)
MOSCOW — A long-feared Russian invasion of Ukraine appeared to be imminent Monday, if not already underway, with Russian President Vladimir Putin ordering forces into separatist regions of eastern Ukraine.