Russia faces new sanctions after Putin recognizes dissident regions of Ukraine

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MOSCOW/DONETSK – The United States and its European allies are set to announce tough new sanctions on Russia on Tuesday after President Vladimir Putin formally recognized two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine, deepening a security crisis on the continent.

Ukraine’s military said two soldiers had been killed and 12 injured in shelling by pro-Russian separatists in the east in the past 24 hours, the highest number of casualties this year, as ceasefire violations -fire increased.

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Putin’s announcement on Monday drew international condemnation and immediate US sanctions, with President Joe Biden signing an executive order to halt US business activity in breakaway regions.

“The United States will impose sanctions on Russia for this flagrant violation of international law and of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Ambassador to the Nations, told reporters. United, after an emergency meeting of the Security Council on Monday evening.

“We can, want and must remain united in our calls for Russia to withdraw its forces, return to the diplomatic table and work for peace.”

A British government minister said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was already underway, so Britain would sanction Russia.

“You can conclude that the invasion of Ukraine has started,” Health Secretary Sajid Javid said.

Britain said it had drawn up sanctions to target accomplices in violating Ukraine’s territorial integrity, and the measures would come into effect on Tuesday.

France and Germany have also agreed to respond with sanctions.

China expressed concern over the worsening situation and called on all parties to exercise restraint while Japan said it was ready to join international sanctions against Moscow in the event of a full-scale invasion. .

Russia’s UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia has warned Western powers to “think twice” and not escalate the situation.

A Reuters witness saw tanks and other military equipment drive through the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk on Monday hours after Putin officially recognized the separatist regions and ordered the deployment of Russian forces to “keep the peace”. No badges were visible on the vehicles.

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The Ukrainian military said on its Facebook page that it had registered 84 cases of shelling by separatists who it said opened fire on around 40 settlements along the frontline with heavy artillery, in violation of ceasefire agreements.

The Interfax news agency quoted a separatist official as saying Ukrainian forces had killed three civilians.

Russia denies any plans to attack its neighbour, but it has amassed troops on Ukraine’s borders and threatened ‘military-technical’ action unless it receives broad security guarantees, including the promise that Ukraine will never join NATO.

A senior US official said the deployment of Russian troops in the separatist enclaves did not deserve the harshest sanctions that the United States and its allies had prepared in the event of a full-scale invasion, because Russia already had troops.

GRIEVANCE

Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions – collectively known as Donbass – broke from Ukrainian government control in 2014 and declared themselves independent “people’s republics”.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe called on Russia for the decision to recognize the regions, saying it would only fuel tensions and separate people living in the regions from the rest of their country, Ukraine. .

Russia needed to ratify its friendship treaties with the regions before it could discuss issues such as the territories’ exact borders, the RIA news agency reported, citing the Foreign Ministry. The Russian parliament is expected to review the friendship treaties on Tuesday.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who received a call from Biden on Monday to express his solidarity, accused Russia of derailing peace talks and ruled out territorial concessions.

Growing fears of a major war in Europe pushed oil prices to a seven-year high on Tuesday, as safe-haven currencies like the yen rallied and global stocks fell. The ruble extended its losses as Putin spoke, at one point slipping past 80 to the dollar.

In a lengthy televised speech on Monday filled with grievances against the West, a visibly angry Putin said eastern Ukraine was former Russian land.

Putin delved into history all the way back to the Ottoman Empire and expressed frustration that Russia’s demands for a rewrite of Europe’s security arrangements have been repeatedly rebuffed.

“I consider it necessary to take a decision that should have been taken a long time ago – to immediately recognize the independence and sovereignty of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic,” Putin said.

Putin has worked for years to restore Russia’s influence over the nations that emerged after the collapse of the Soviet Union, with Ukraine looming large in his ambitions. Russia annexed Crimea to Ukraine in 2014.

A French presidential official said the speech “mixed various considerations of a rigid and paranoid nature”. (Reporting by Reuters bureaus; Writing by Stephen Coates; Editing by Robert Birsel and Gerry Doyle)

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