Kyiv: In what could trigger a potentially catastrophic war, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops into two Moscow-backed rebel regions of Ukraine after recognising them as independent on Monday, disregarding Western threats of sanctions.

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TOPSHOT – Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council in Moscow on February 21, 2022. – President Vladimir Putin said on February 21, 2022, he would make a decision “today” on recognising the independence of east Ukraine’s rebel republics, after Russia’s top officials made impassioned speeches in favour of the move. (Photo by Alexey NIKOLSKY / Sputnik / AFP) (Photo by ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)

Putin earlier recognised the independence of two separatist-held areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine. The Kremlin leader also directed the defence ministry to assume “the function of peacekeeping” in the rebel-held regions.

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In a 65-minute televised national address from his Kremlin office, Putin described Ukraine as a failed state and “puppet” of the West. He said it was necessary to “take a long overdue decision, to immediately recognise the independence” of the two regions.

We will take appropriate steps in response to Putin’s recognition of separatist regions: Blinken

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned Russia’s move to recognise two separatist regions in eastern Ukrainia as independent Monday as a sign President Vladimir Putin had no interest in diplomacy. In a statement, Blinken added that the move “directly contradicts Russia’s claimed commitment to diplomacy, and is a clear attack on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” “We will continue to coordinate with Ukraine and our Allies and partners to take appropriate steps in response to this unprovoked and unacceptable action by Russia,” he added.

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COURTESY- INDIAN EXPRESS, TOI

LATEST UPDATES

Ukraine crisis: Russia welcomes India’s position

Russia Wednesday welcomed India’s “independent position” on the Ukraine crisis and said its views on the issue at the UN Security Council was reflective of the special and privileged strategic partnership between the two countries.

Russian Deputy Chief of Mission Roman Babushkin said India has been playing a vital role as a responsible global power and it takes an “independent and balanced” approach to global affairs. 

We welcome the independent position of India which it took twice at the UN Security Council,” he said at an online media briefing. “The Indian activities at the UN Security Council are fully reflecting the merit of our special and privileged strategic partnership,” he added. (PTI)

Russia has started evacuating diplomatic personnel from Ukraine: Tass report

Russian state-run news agency Tass on Wednesday reported Russia has started evacuating diplomatic personnel from Ukraine.

18:22 (IST)23 FEB 2022

  

Pope tells politicians to examine their consciences before God over Ukraine actions

Pope Francis on Wednesday said the threat of war in Ukraine had caused “great pain in my heart”, and urged politicians to make a serious examination of conscience before God about their actions.Speaking in a sombre tone at the end of his weekly general audience, Francis urged leaders to abstain from any moves that would cause further suffering for people and proclaimed Ash Wednesday, March 2, as an international day of fasting and prayer for peace. –Reuters

17:24 (IST)23 FEB 2022

  

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy inspects weapons during visit to coast guards in Mariupol

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In this handout photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy inspects weapons during a visit to Ukrainian coast guards in Mariupol, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022. In late January, Zelenskyy said that $12.5 billion had been withdrawn from accounts in the country. Last week, he called on members of parliament and businessmen who had fled to return. More than 20 charters and private jets left Kyiv last week, carrying some of the country’s most prominent executives. (AP)

What are Putin’s demands?

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the crisis could be resolved if:

1️⃣ Kyiv recognises Russia’s sovereignty over Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Moscow annexed after seizing it from Ukraine in 2014, 
2️⃣ renounces its bid to join NATO and partially demilitarises

The West has decried the annexation of Crimea as a violation of international law and has previously flatly rejected permanently barring Ukraine from NATO. 

Biden meets with Ukraine FM to “reaffirm” support, says White House

Donald Trump praises Putin’s invasion as “genius”

Former US President Donald Trump termed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s move declaring a portion of Ukraine as independent as “genius” and said Putin will have the “strongest peace force”.

Speaking to the conservative talk show ‘The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show’, Trump claimed that the Russian invasion would not have happened had he been in office. His full remarks are as follows:

“I went in yesterday and there was a television screen, and I said, ‘This is genius.’ Putin declares a big portion of the Ukraine — of Ukraine. Putin declares it as independent. Oh, that’s wonderful. So, Putin is now saying, ‘It’s independent,’ a large section of Ukraine. I said, ‘How smart is that?’ And he’s gonna go in and be a peacekeeper. That’s strongest peace force… We could use that on our southern border. That’s the strongest peace force I’ve ever seen. There were more army tanks than I’ve ever seen. They’re gonna keep peace all right. No, but think of it. Here’s a guy who’s very savvy… I know him very well. Very, very well. By the way, this never would have happened with us. Had I been in office, not even thinkable. This would never have happened. But here’s a guy that says, you know, ‘I’m gonna declare a big portion of Ukraine independent,’ he used the word ‘independent,’ ‘and we’re gonna go out and we’re gonna go in and we’re gonna help keep peace.’ You gotta say that’s pretty savvy.”

“I think he sees this opportunity. I knew that he always wanted Ukraine. I used to talk to him about it. I said, ‘You can’t do it. You’re not gonna do it.’ But I could see that he wanted it. I used to ask him. We used to talk about it at length. I think nobody probably knows him better in terms of the discussions that we have or that we’re having this morning. So, I knew him very well. I got to know him.”

01:14 (IST) Feb 23

Biden says US sanctions VEB Bank

01:11 (IST) Feb 23

This (Russian President Vladimir Putin recognizes independence of Ukraine breakaway regions) is a flagrant violation of international law. We going to judge Russia by its action, not words… I hope diplomacy is still available: US President Joe Biden

01:09 (IST) Feb 23

‘Still time’ for diplomacy and to ‘avert the worst case scenario’ in Ukraine: Biden

I have authorized additional movements of US forces and equipment, already stationed in Europe, to strengthen our Baltic allies, says Biden

01:03 (IST) Feb 23

We’re implementing sanctions on their sovereign debt. We’ve cut off Russia’s government from Western financing. They can no longer raise money from the West and cannot trade its new debt on our markets, says Biden

01:03 (IST) Feb 23

Biden announces sanctions that he says will cut off Russia’s finance system, target elites, and ensures Nord Stream 2 won’t go forward


Ukraine President Zelenskyy demands immediate halt to Nord Stream 2 project. (AFP)

15:52 (IST) Feb 22

Turkey’s Erdogan slams recognition of Ukraine rebel republics as ‘unacceptable’: Official agency (AFP)

15:52 (IST) Feb 22

Russia foreign ministry calls on world to “follow” it in recognising east Ukraine’s rebel republics. (AFP)

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15:42 (IST) Feb 22

Air India will operate at least two more special flights between India and Ukraine on February 24 and 26.

EU to adopt Russia sanctions ‘this afternoon’: Foreign policy chief

European Union foreign ministers will adopt sanctions Tuesday against Russia over its recognition of Ukrainian separatist regions and further deployment of troops on its neighbour’s territory, the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.

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13:25 (IST) Feb 22

Russia’s Putin has chosen confrontation over dialogue: UK minister

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions towards Ukraine show he has chosen confrontation with the West over dialogue, British health minister Sajid Javid said on Tuesday.”We’ve always preferred dialogue and still continue to do so but it’s clear from President Putin’s actions that he has chosen confrontation over dialogue,” Javid told BBC.

13:22 (IST) Feb 22

Separatists in east Ukraine accuse Kyiv over blast that killed three people

A Russian-backed separatist official in eastern Ukraine accused Ukrainian saboteurs on Tuesday of detonating a mine on a road in the breakaway region that killed three civilians, Interfax news agency reported. The separatist official did not provide evidence and there was no immediate comment from Ukraine. Kyiv has repeatedly denied similar allegations and accused the separatists and Russia of deliberately circulating fakes.

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Russia Ukraine Crisis Live: China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Tuesday expressed concerns over the “worsening” situation in Ukraine. Detailing a call with US Secretary Antony Blinken, a statement by China said that it called on all parties to “exercise restraint” and that the legitimate security concerns of any country should be respected. “China will continue to stay in touch with all parties,” Wang said. Blinken had earlier said that he had underscored the need to preserve Ukraine’s sovereignty in a call with Wang.

China’s concerns come after President Vladimir Putin Monday signed a decree recognising two Russian separatist-held regions — Donetsk and Luhansk — in Ukraine as independent entities. Responding to the development, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in a statement on Tuesday accused Russia of wrecking peace efforts and violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of his country. “…we are on our own land, we are not afraid of anything and anybody, we owe nothing to no one, and we will give nothing to no one,” Zelenskiy said.

Calling Putin’s actions a blatant violation of Moscow’s international commitments, US President Joe Biden signed an executive order blocking trade and investment in the regions. The UK, too, is preparing to impose sanctions, news agency AP has reported. Prime Minister Boris Johnson offered defensive support to Zelenskiy over a call, saying that he believed an invasion was “a real possibility in the coming hours and days.” India, meanwhile, has called for restraint on all sides at an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, stating that the immediate priority is the de-escalation of tensions taking into account the legitimate security interests of all countries.

US Secretary speaks to China on preserving Ukraine’s sovereignty

US Secretary Antony Blinken on Tuesday tweeted that he had spoken to People’s Republic of China, underscoring the need to preserve Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. 

In a major escalation, prompting fear of war in the West, Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday recognised two breakaway regions of Ukraine as independent. 

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US slams Russian ‘peacekeepers’ in Ukraine as ‘nonsense’

The deployment of what Russia called a peacekeeping operation in eastern Ukraine is “nonsense” and Moscow’s recognition of the breakaway regions as independent is part of its pretext for war, the United States told the UN Security Council on Monday.

At an emergency meeting, US Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, warned that consequences of Russia’s actions “will be dire across Ukraine, across Europe, and across the globe.”

“President Putin has torn the Minsk Agreement to shreds. We have been clear that we do not believe he will stop at that,” she was quoted as saying by Reuters. 

Putin says responsibility of ‘bloodshed’ on Ukraine

In a speech recognising Donetsk and Luhansk as independent regions, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, “As for those who captured and are holding on to power in Kyiv…We demand that they immediately cease military action.”

“If not, the complete responsibility for the possibility of a continuation of bloodshed will be fully and wholly on the conscience of the regime ruling the territory of Ukraine,” he added. Ukraine on its part has denied allegations that it is preparing an offensive against the separatist territories.

Feb 22, 2022  |  06:47 AM (IST)

US, European Union, UK to impose sanctions on Russia

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The US announced sanctions, with the White House saying President Joe Biden will issue an executive order to “prohibit new investment, trade, and financing by US persons to, from, or in” the two rebel regions where Russia has ordered the deployment of troops. European Union also said that it will slap sanctions on those involved in recognising Ukraine’s breakaway regions as independent. The United Kingdom will also announce “significant” new sanctions at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in wake of Moscow’s recognition of pro-Russian breakaway regions in crisis-hit Ukraine.

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