Europe Braces for Further Strife as Ukraine Prepares to Declare State of Emergency
Ukraine urged its citizens to leave Russia, and Europe braced for further confrontation Wednesday after tensions escalated dramatically when Russia’s leader received authorization to use military force outside his country and the West responded with a raft of sanctions.
Hopes for a diplomatic way out of a new, potentially devastating war appeared all but sunk as the U.S. and key European allies accused Moscow on Tuesday of crossing a red line in rolling over Ukraine’s border into separatist regions—with some calling it an invasion.
The top U.S. diplomat canceled a meeting with his Russian counterpart; Kyiv recalled its ambassador and considered breaking all diplomatic ties with Moscow; dozens of nations further squeezed Russian oligarchs and banks out of international markets; Germany halted a lucrative pipeline deal; and the U.S. repositioned additional troops to NATO’s eastern flank bordering Russia.
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After several weeks of trying calmly, the Ukrainian authorities expressed increasing concern Wednesday. The Foreign Ministry advised against travel to Russia and recommended anyone there leave immediately, saying Moscow’s “aggression” could lead to a significant reduction in consular services.
The head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council called for a nationwide state of emergency—subject to parliamentary approval. Oleksiy Danielilov explained that the decision on which measures will apply to Ukraine’s citizens rests with regional authorities. However, these could include traffic and transportation restrictions as well additional protections for public buildings.
Already the war threat has been raised shredded Ukraine’s economyThis raised concerns about massive casualties. Energie shortagesEurope And global economic chaos.
Leaders warned that the situation could get worse even as it took an unexpected, deadly turn. Russian President Vladimir Putin is yet to mobilize the force of 150,000 soldiers on the three sides of Ukraine. Meanwhile, the U.S. President Joe Biden resisted tougher sanctions which could create economic chaos for Russia. However, he said that they will continue with their current measures if Russia acts aggressively.
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German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Wednesday called European Union sanctions agreed a day before just “a first step” and also said further measures could follow. The West has not ruled out using military force against Russia, which makes Sanctions crucial.
Dmytro Kuleba, the Ukrainian foreign minister, urged Western leaders to not wait.
“We call on partners to impose more sanctions on Russia now,” he wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. “Now the pressure needs to step up to stop Putin. Take out Putin’s economy and his cronies. Do more. Hit hard. Hit now.”
Responding defiantly to the steps already taken, Russian ambassador in the U.S. Anatoly Antonov retorted that “sanctions cannot solve a thing” in a statement on Facebook. “It is hard to imagine that there is a person in Washington who expects Russia to revise its foreign policy under a threat of restrictions.”
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In Ukraine’s east, where an eight-year conflict between Russia-backed rebels and Ukrainian forces has killed nearly 14,000 people, violence also spiked again. According to the Ukrainian military, one soldier from Ukraine was killed while six others sustained injuries in shelling by rebels. According to separatists, there was an explosion overnight that killed three people and caused several civilian casualties.
Over 96,000 Russian citizens have reached the Russian border since last Friday when the Donetsk-Luhansk separatist leaders announced mass evacuations.
Putin’s actions this week, after weeks of tensions rising, dramatically increased the stakes. The first was to recognize the autonomy of these separatist areas. He said then that Ukrainian forces now hold large portions of these territories, which includes Mariupol, the Azov Sea port.
Finally, he asked for and was granted permission to use military force outside the country—effectively formalizing a Russian military deployment to the rebel regions.
Still, Putin suggested there was a way out of the crisis, laying out three conditions: He called on Kyiv to recognize Russia’s sovereignty over Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014, to renounce its bid to join NATO and partially demilitarize.
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It was not clear if diplomacy was possible since both the West and Ukraine had rejected the two first demands as being non-starters.
Russian leader Tony Putin was unclear when asked about Russian troop deployments to Ukraine. He also suggested that they might go as far as possible. Separatist leader from Donetsk Denis Pushilin claimed Wednesday that no Russian forces are present in the region.
Pushilin’s remarks contradict those of Vladislav Brig, a member of the separatist local council in Donetsk, who told reporters Tuesday that Russian troops had already moved in. Late Monday, convoys of armored vehicles were seen rolling across the separatist-controlled territories. It wasn’t immediately clear if they were Russian.
— Litvinova reported from Moscow. This report was contributed by Darlene Superville and Jim Heintz, in Washington; Angela Charlton, in Paris; Frank Jordans, in Berlin; Aamer madhani, Eric Tucker; Zeke Miller; Zeke Miller; Chris Megerian, Robert Burns, Matthew Lee; Darlene Superville, in Washington.