While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Feb 22

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Putin orders Russian military to 'maintain peace' in Ukraine rebel regions

President Vladimir Putin on Monday ordered Russia's military to "maintain peace" in two breakaway regions of Ukraine, just hours after he recognised them as independent.

In two official decrees, Putin instructed the defence ministry to assume "the function of maintaining peace" in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.

The move came hours after Putin recognised the independence of the two separatist regions in an emotional address on state-run television, despite warnings from the West this could trigger sweeping sanctions.

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Putin recognises independence of pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, EU to react with sanctions

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday recognised the independence of two separatist regions in eastern Ukraine in an emotional address on state-run television, despite warnings from the West this could trigger sweeping sanctions.

“I believe it is necessary to take a long overdue decision, to immediately recognise the independence and sovereignty of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic,” he said.

State television then showed Putin signing mutual aid agreements with rebel leaders in the Kremlin.

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UK to end legal self-isolation for people with Covid-19 from Feb 24

Britain will remove the legal requirement to self isolate following a positive Covid-19 test from Feb 24, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday.

"We will remove all remaining domestic restrictions in law.

From this Thursday, the 24th of February, we will end the legal requirement to self isolate following a positive test," Johnson told parliament.

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Italy's Etna spews smoke and ashes, closing airport

Mount Etna, one of the world's most active volcanoes, belched smoke and ashes in a new eruption on Monday (Feb 21), briefly forcing the closure of the airport of Catania in Sicily.

The ash cloud rose 10 kilometres into the air above a crater on the southeast of the volcano, the INGV National Institute for Geophysics and Vulcanology said on Twitter.

The nearby Vincenzo Bellini international airport in Catania closed at lunchtime Monday. Although it reopened after about two hours, it warned of delays.

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Tennis: Djokovic triumphs to loud cheers in first match since Australia deportation

Novak Djokovic made a successful return to the tour for the first time since his deportation from Australia, kicking off his 2022 campaign with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Italian teenager Lorenzo Musetti in Dubai on Monday.

The Serbian world No.1 was greeted by loud cheers from a packed Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium as he commenced his quest for a sixth title in the Emirates in style.

"I couldn't ask for a better reception. It's been a while since I played the last match, I couldn't pick a better place to kick-start the season," said Djokovic.

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