In the West, Russia’s actions in Ukraine have been harshly condemned. Britain says an invasion of Ukraine has already begun after Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered his army to launch a so-called “peace mission” in eastern Ukraine.
Russia now sees the two rebel areas of Luhansk and Donetsk as independent states. Here’s what we know now.
It is unclear whether Russian tanks have already crossed the border into Ukraine. However, Reuters news agency and eyewitnesses in the region say that a column of military vehicles has been spotted. This would include tanks without insignia.
This morning, British Cabinet Secretary Sajid Javid said that Russia has already begun the invasion. “Putin has decided on confrontation rather than dialogue,” he told the BBC.
Many countries are now preparing sanctions against Russia. European representatives are meeting this morning to discuss a new package. Josep Borrell, European Union representative for Foreign Affairs, expects a decision this afternoon.
Prime Minister Rutte said yesterday in Jinek that this primarily concerns financial sanctions aimed at the group of Russian politicians who made the recognition of the republics possible. The US has also imposed the first package of financial sanctions against the two rebel areas. President Joe Biden signed a decree to that effect last night.
In a specially scheduled emergency meeting of the United Nations, America and partners lashed out at Russia last night. The US ambassador to the United Nations said Putin is testing the world.
“Putin wants to go back in time, to an era before the United Nations and to a time when empires still ruled. But the rest of the world has moved on. It is no longer 1919, but 2022,” said Linda Thomas- greenfield.
She called the deployment of Russian soldiers as so-called peacekeepers nonsense. “We know what they are.” China, which usually works together with Russia, also emphasized that all parties should exercise restraint.
Last night, President Putin announced his decision with a lengthy televised speech, full of historical references. Ukraine, he says, is a country ‘created by Russia’ and nothing more than a ‘hand puppet of America’.
Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky said in a TV speech last night that Ukraine is “afraid of nothing and no one”. He also said he expects “clear support” from the West. Zelensky called that recognition “a violation of his country’s sovereign and territorial integrity.”