A key point here that I want to make sure everyone sees. As Josh Kovensky explains here, President Putin of Russia said today that Russia has recognized the breakaway eastern statelets on the full territories they claim. That is substantially more Ukrainian territory than these statelets (and their Russian backers) currently control. As Josh explained to me this morning, the two statelets claim the entire territories of the official Ukrainian oblasts (provinces) of Luhansk and Donetsk. But they only control between a third and half of that territory. So if you follow the logic of the events of the last 48 hours, Ukraine is currently occupying lots of land belonging to these two purported republics Russia now recognizes. And Russia could reconquer that territory as a defensive action on their behalf. Because, you know, they just want to help out.
Whether they’ll actually do this is another question. But it’s a claim with high and dangerous relevance to the current situation.