Ukrainian soldier in Lukansk (AFP / Aris Messinis) on February 22, 2022
The Kremlin announced overnight from Wednesday to Thursday the call for the help of pro-Russian separatists to “chase” the Ukrainian army, a further indication of the possibility of Russian military intervention in Ukraine despite sanctions and international outcry.
During the day, Ukraine mobilized its 18- to 60-year-old reservists, voted for a state of emergency and announced that it was the target of a new “massive” cyber attack targeting official websites, while more than 150,000 Russian troops were stationed along its borders, according to Washington and Kiev.
A senior U.S. official said Wednesday that President Vladimir Putin was ready to invade his neighboring country “with almost 100%” the necessary forces.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned at the start of the UN General Assembly that the world was in a “dangerous moment”.
– Emergency –
With a large majority, the Ukrainian delegation voted in favor of introducing a state of emergency requested by President Volodymyr Zhelensky, Secretary of the Security Council and Secretary of Defense Oleksi Danilov, who on this occasion “condemned Russia’s political aggression.
Zelensky had previously stated that “Ukraine urgently needs clear and firm security guarantees.” He added that the “future of European security” in Ukraine was in jeopardy.
Overnight, the Kremlin announced that leaders of pro-Russian separatist “republics” in eastern Ukraine had sought Vladimir Putin’s “help” in thwarting the Ukrainian military’s “occupation”.
The Russian state-run news agency Dass published letters dated February 22, the day on which Russian lawmakers authorized Vladimir Putin to establish a military presence in Ukraine.
US President Joe Biden during a speech at the White House on February 22, 2022 (AFP / Brendan Smylovsky)
On Wednesday, Russia began expelling its embassy officials from Ukraine, and the Russian flag will no longer fly over its embassy in Kiev. America has already closed them.
The Russian president had earlier stated that Russia’s interests were “impossible to negotiate”. In an angry speech on Monday, he questioned the legitimacy of Ukraine’s existence, accusing it of being an instrument in the hands of NATO’s anti-Russian aggression policy.
Internationally, an emergency summit of 27 EU leaders on the Russia-Ukraine crisis will be held in Brussels on Thursday evening. The meeting should show “we are united”, which underscores the French president.
A Ukrainian soldier near the Shastia area facing pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine on February 23, 2022 (AFP / Anatoly Stepanov)
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden announced sanctions against the company responsible for operating the Nortstream 2 gas pipeline that connects Russia with Germany, which Berlin has already suspended.
The previous day, he had already taken public action against Russian banks and oligarchs, condemning the Russian “start of an invasion” in Ukraine.
British Foreign Secretary Lis Truss called an invasion “highly possible” on Wednesday, while his French envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian described it as “very likely”.
Vladimir Putin, who has been setting the tempo since the beginning of the crisis in December, on Monday recognized the independence of the pro-Russian separatist “republics” of Donetsk and Lukansk, and then received the green light from the upper house of parliament the next day. Deployment of Russian forces.
A Russian military contingent (AFP / STRINGER) in the Rostov region near the Ukrainian border on February 23, 2022
Although these results laid the groundwork for a major intervention on the ground, no significant troop movement was reported.
In the Russian territory of Rostov, about fifty kilometers from the border, Russian forces are in large numbers: military trucks, rocket launchers or howitzers, without signs of specific operation, according to AFP reporters.
– Five million refugees? –
Many fear that this crisis will lead to the worst conflict in Europe since 1945.
Gas masks on sale in Kiev on February 23, 2022 (AFP / Daniel LEAL)
Washington and its Western allies have taken the first steps in response to the recognition of separatists who have been fighting Kiev for eight years, a conflict that has killed more than 14,000 people to date.
If Berlin shut down the massive Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, Mr. Biden, for his part, announced “first installment” sanctions to prevent Russia from raising Western funds to repay its debt.
Moscow, for its part, promised a “strong” and “painful” response to the Americans.
Map of eastern Ukraine showing the incidence of violence since January 1, 2022, according to data from Acled (AFP /)
These measures are modest compared to the measures promised during the invasion, and Moscow can boast of nearly $ 640 billion in foreign exchange reserves and $ 183 billion in a sovereign fund to deal with them.
At the forefront, the resumption of fighting between the military and separatists in recent days did not stop on Wednesday. Fighters are constantly exchanging artillery fire, blaming each other. One Ukrainian soldier was killed, the ninth since January.
Lukansk separatists also announced the death of a militant on Wednesday. A civilian was also killed in the shelling at night, according to rebels.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the UN, warned on Wednesday that a Russian intervention could trigger a “new refugee crisis” and that “five million people have been displaced.”
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