President Vladimir Putin has emphasized that Russia’s interests and security are non-negotiable, despite rumours of additional Russian soldiers approaching Ukraine’s borders.
Mr Putin delivered a video message only hours after US Vice President Joe Biden warned of “the beginning of a Russian invasion” Mr Putin stated that Russia was always “open for direct and honest dialogue” but that he had complete faith in the military.
The West has unveiled a round of penalties aimed squarely at Russian interests.
“We’ve cut off Russia’s government from Western financing,” Mr Biden said after Russia’s upper house of parliament authorized the president to send soldiers into two areas of eastern Ukraine held by Russian-backed rebels.
On Monday night, Mr Putin said that Russia had recognized the independence of the so-called people’s republics of Luhansk and Donetsk, ripping up a peace treaty with Ukraine.
Ukraine’s foreign ministry encouraged all nationals to leave Russia, saying that “escalating Russia aggression against Ukraine” may limit consular aid. The military in Kyiv also declared that all reservists between the ages of 18 and 60, both officers and privates, would be called up immediately for a maximum of a year.
Meanwhile, in rebel-held territories, separatist leader Denis Pushilin said military mobilization was accelerating to oppose what he called Ukrainian aggression, adding that he may possibly seek assistance from Russia.
A top official from Russia’s ruling United Russia party appeared with him and stated that 93,000 individuals had been transported to Russia.
The West dismissed President Putin’s suggestion that the military would go to “maintain peace” as nonsense. UN Secretary-General António Guterres expressed worry over “the perversion of the concept of peacekeeping” after rejecting his bogus accusation of genocide in eastern Ukraine.
“To put it simply,” Mr. Biden added, “Russia just announced that it is carving out a large chunk of Ukraine.”
Despite Mr. Putin’s assurance that he was still open to dialogue, both France’s foreign minister and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken cancelled planned talks with Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov.
Later, French Foreign Minister Yves Le Drian stated that Mr Putin’s goal was to “negate” Ukraine as a sovereign state. Mr Putin, according to German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, is attempting to rewrite history. Both, though, stated that they were ready to future talks with Moscow.
It is unclear whether Russian forces have crossed the border into Ukraine. However, US satellite data has revealed multiple additional military and equipment deployments in western Russia, as well as more than 100 vehicles at a Belarus airport near the Ukrainian border.