Russian President, Vladimir Putin has ordered troops into two rebel-held regions in Ukraine on alleged “peacekeeping” operations.

After weeks of massing troops around Ukraine, Russia says it now recognises the rebel-held Donetsk and Lugansk regions as ‘independent’.

In an often angry 65-minute televised national address from his office, Putin railed against Ukraine as a failed state and “puppet” of the West.

Putin said it was necessary to “take a long-overdue decision, to immediately recognise the independence” of the two regions.

His action prompted a furious response from the West with the United States denouncing the move at the UN Security Council as a “pretext for war”.

The Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky has also reacted, saying they are not afraid.

“We are on our own land. We are not afraid of anything or anyone.”