Moscow announced Wednesday that rebels in Ukraine had asked Russia for military assistance to stop “aggression” from Ukraine. This announcement immediately raised fears that Moscow was providing a pretext for war as the West had warned.
Shortly after, the Ukrainian president dismissed Moscow’s claim that his country is a threat to Russia. He warned that an invasion by Russia would result in the loss of tens of thousands.
In a touching overnight address to his nation, President Volodymyr Zilenskyy stated that the people of Ukraine and government of Ukraine wanted peace. We will defend ourselves against any attack on our country, freedom, lives, and children’s lives. You will not see our backs if you attack us.
Zelenskyy claimed that he called Russian President Vladimir Putin to schedule a call late Wednesday. However, the Kremlin did not respond.
Zelensky, apparent referring to Putin’s decision to authorize the Russian military being deployed to “maintain peaceful” in Ukraine, warned that this could be the beginning of a major war on Europe.
He said, “Any provocation or spark could trigger an igniting blaze that will destroy all.”
He challenged Russian propaganda claims and said that although you are told that the blaze would bring freedom to the Ukrainian people, the Ukrainian people are completely free.
At Ukraine’s request, the United Nations Security Council immediately scheduled an emergency meeting Wednesday night. Dmytro Kuleba, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, called the request of separatists “another escalation in the security situation.”
After Putin acknowledged the independence of the separatist territories on Monday and authorized the deployment troops to those areas to “maintain peace”, anxiety over a Russian invasion against its neighbor rose after he received approval from the Parliament to use military force in the foreign country. The West responded by imposing sanctions.
Dmitry Peskov, spokesperson for the Kremlin, said Wednesday that rebel chiefs wrote to Putin pleading with him not to allow civilians to die and to stop Ukrainian shelling from crippling vital infrastructure.
Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, stated that separatists asked for Russian assistance because it was an example of “false flag” operations that the U.S. expects Moscow to use as a pretext for war.
She said, “So we’ll keep calling out what we consider false-flag operations and efforts to spread misinformation about the current status on the ground.”
Moscow was accused by the U.S. and its key European allies of crossing a redline Tuesday when it rolled over Ukraine’s border into an eastern separatist region known as The Donbas. Some have called it an invasion.
A decree was approved by Ukrainian lawmakers earlier in the day that creates a national emergency for 30 days, starting on Thursday. This measure permits authorities to call for curfews, restrictions on movement and block rallies. It also allows them to ban political parties and organisations “in the interest of national security”
After weeks of trying calmly, the Ukrainian authorities were growing increasingly concerned by this action. The Foreign Ministry warned against traveling to Russia and advised that anyone who is there immediately leave.
Russia evacuated its Kyiv embassy on Wednesday as hope for a diplomatic solution to a potential new, potentially destructive war in Europe wanes.
“For a long period, we resisted declaring a state emergency… but today, the situation has become more complex,” Oleksiy Danilov, head of the National Security and Defense Council, told parliament. He stressed that Moscow’s attempts to destabilize Ukraine were the main threat.
John Kirby, Pentagon press secretary, stated that the Russian army of over 150,000 troops positioned along Ukraine’s border is in an advanced stage of readiness. Kirby stated that they are “ready to go right now.”
Maxar satellite images company released the latest images showing Russian troops and military equipment within 10 miles of Ukraine’s border. They are also less than 50 miles away from Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city.
Russia’s actions were reacted to by President Joe Biden who allowed sanctions to be imposed on the company that constructed the Russia-to Germany Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, as well as the CEO.
Biden stated in a statement that he had directed his administration to impose sanctions against Nord Stream 2 AG, and its corporate officers. “If Russia escalates, as I have stated, we won’t hesitate to take additional steps,” Biden said.
Germany announced Tuesday that it would suspend the project indefinitely after Biden claimed that Putin had started “a Russian invasion of Ukraine”, sending troops into separatist areas. Although the pipeline is completed, it has not yet started operating.
Putin claimed Tuesday that he had not yet sent any Russian troops to rebel areas contrary to Western claims. Donetsk rebel leader Denis Pushilin maintained Wednesday that there were no Russian troops within the region, despite a claim by a local council member the previous day that they had moved in.
Mykhailo Fedorov, the Ukrainian Minister for Digital Transformation, stated Wednesday that a series of denial-of service attacks had targeted some banks and official websites. The attack knocked down the websites of the parliament, cabinet, and foreign ministry and caused disruptions or delays to sites of defense and interior ministry which control the police.
Already, the threat to war has decimated Ukraine’s economy, raised fears of mass casualties, fuel shortages in Europe, and global economic chaos.
Even though the conflict took a dangerous new turn, leaders warned that it could get worse. While Putin has not yet unleashed the 150,000 soldiers positioned on the three sides of Ukraine’s border, Biden resisted the use of harsher sanctions but stated that they would continue to do so if Russia continues to act aggressively.
Other developments included Kyiv recalling its ambassador to Russia, and considering ending all diplomatic relations with Moscow. Numerous nations also squeezed Russian banks and oligarchs out of international markets. The U.S. moved additional troops to NATO’s eastern flank bordering Russia. And the U.S. top diplomat cancelled a meeting with his Russian counterpart.
European Union sanctionagainst Russia came into effect. It targeted several companies, along with 351 Russian legislators who voted for a motion asking Putin to recognize rebel regions and 27 top government officials and military officers.
“Russian Foreign Ministry shrugged off sanctions and stated that it has shown that, despite all the sanctions costs, it can minimize the damage.”
Violence in Ukraine’s east has risen again. According to the Ukrainian military, one soldier from Ukraine was killed and six others were injured by rebel shelling. Separatist officials claimed that there were several explosions overnight on their territory, and three civilian deaths.
After being subject to a barrage from criticisms at the United Nations General Assembly of 193 members, Vassily Nebenzia, Russia’s U.N. Ambassador, warned Ukraine that Russia would monitor the ceasefire in the east. He also stressed that “no one wants to go softly, softly” with violators.
He warned that “a new military adventure” by Kyiv could “cost the whole of Ukraine very dearly.”
After weeks of increasing tensions, Putin took steps this week that significantly raised the stakes. He acknowledged the independence of these separatist regions and asked parliament to grant him the authority to use military force in the foreign country.
Putin outlined three conditions that could end the standoff. He urged Kyiv, in an appeal to Russia, to recognize Russia’s sovereignty over Crimea (the Black Sea peninsula Moscow annexed to Ukraine in 2014), to stop its bid to join NATO, and to partially demilitarize. These demands have been rejected by Ukraine for a long time.