Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday evening ordered his defense ministry to dispatch peacekeepers to Donetsk and Luhansk, eastern Ukraine's two breakaway regions, Reuters reported.

The order came hours after Putin signed an order recognizing the independence of pro-Russian separatist groups in eastern Ukraine, further raising fears that he intends to launch a military invasion of Ukraine.

Putin announced his decision in a conversation with French President Emanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Scholz said that Russia would be in violation of the 2015 Minsk agreements if it went ahead with the move.

Russia currently has over 150,000 troops stationed near the Ukrainian border. On Sunday, the US cited intelligence reports saying that Russian military officers have already received orders to launch the invasion of Ukraine.

Later on Sunday, the US embassy in Moscow warned Americans of potential attacks in public places in Russia, including along the border with Ukraine.

The embassy told Americans in Russia to "avoid crowds" and "have evacuation plans that do not rely on US government assistance".

At the same time, satellite imagery from US company Maxar revealed that there have been multiple new field deployments of armored equipment and troops in Russia near the border with Ukraine.