Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed the presidential decree recognizing the independence of separatist regions in eastern Ukraine.

Speaking in a televised address to the citizens earlier, Putin explained: "I believe it is necessary to take this long overdue decision. I immediately recognize the independence and sovereignty of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic."

Russian media reports say the Russian leader asked the Federal Assembly (Russia’s parliament) to back this decision and then ratify the treaties on friendship and mutual aid with both republics.

While announcing this decision, the president voiced confidence about the support of Russian citizens and all patriotic forces in the country.

Later, Putin met with the DPR and LPR leaders, Denis Pushilin and Leonid Pasechnik, and signed with them the treaties on friendship, cooperation and mutual aid between Russia and both republics, TASS reports.

The ceremony was reportedly held in the Kremlin’s St. Catherine Hall, which hosted the meeting of the Russian Security Council.  At this meeting, the Security Council’s members called for recognizing the independence of the DPR and LPR.

Also in St. Catherine Hall, before inking the friendship treaties, Putin signed the decrees on recognizing the DPR and LPR, and congratulated both leaders.