On February 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized the sovereignty of the DPR and LPR (the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics). Subsequent agreements on friendship, cooperation, and mutual assistance were signed with their leaders. Putin instructed the Russian Foreign Ministry to establish diplomatic relations with the DPR and LPR, and the Russian Defense Ministry was instructed to ensure the maintenance of peace on their territories. His decision to recognise the independence of two separatist regions in eastern Ukraine prompted a response from an array of Western countries, including the US and the UK.
On Tuesday, Western countries announced their sanctions against Russia after Moscow recognized the sovereignty of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR). The measures on the part of the US, the UK and the EU involve both Russian financial structures and companies as well as private individuals.
Here are the latest updates:
Russia vows response to Canada sanctions
Moscow will respond to Canada's "illegitimate and illegal" sanctions introduced against Russia and also affirms that its decision to recognize the independence of the Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics is irreversible, the Russian Embassy in Ottawa said in a statement on Wednesday.
"The unilateral sanctions against Russia imposed by the government of Canada are illegitimate and illegal. Following the principle of reciprocity, Russia will respond to this unfriendly gesture," the statement said. "These sanctions will not influence the situation on the ground. Russia’s recognition of the independence of the Peoples’ Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk is irreversible. Russia will always protect and safeguard the security, peace and prosperous future of their citizens."
Russian Ambassador in Ottawa Oleg Stepanov said it is ludicrous to seek to punish by sanctions the elected members of the Russian Parliament who voted for the recognition of the two republics.
EU officially adopts sanctions against Russia
The European Union on Wednesday officially adopted a package of sanctions against Russia over the recognition of self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk.
"The Council today adopted on a package of measures to respond to the decision by the Russian Federation to proceed with the recognition of the non-government controlled areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts of Ukraine as independent entities, and the subsequent decision to send Russian troops into these areas," the EU said in a press release.
Sanctions are imposed against 351 members of the Russian state duma and 27 "high profile individuals and entities."
"The EU stands ready to swiftly adopt more wide-ranging political and economic sanctions in case of need, and reiterates its unwavering support and commitment to Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders," the EU said, and called on Russia to reconsider recognition of the Donbas republics.
"The Council decided to introduce a sectoral prohibition to finance the Russian Federation, its government and Central Bank. By restraining the ability of the Russian state and government to access the EU’s capital and financial markets and services, the EU aims to limit the financing of escalatory and aggressive policies," the statement read.
EU calls emergency summit
The European Union will hold an emergency summit in Brussels on Thursday evening to discuss Russia-Ukraine development, European Council President Charles Michel has announced in a letter to the bloc’s leaders.
Putin, Erdogan Eechange views on Russia recognizing Donbas Republics
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, exchanged views on Moscow recognizing the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk during a phone conversation on Wednesday, the Kremlin said.
"The leaders exchanged assessments of the situation in connection with Russia's recognition of the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics. Vladimir Putin emphasized the objective necessity of the decision taken in the face of the aggression of the Ukrainian authorities in the Donbas and their categorical refusal to comply with the Minsk agreements. Recep Tayyip Erdogan voiced his well-known views on this matter," the Kremlin said in a statement.
Russia to impose retaliatory measures if UK implements threats: Moscow on threats to RT
If the United Kingdom makes moves against Russian media, Moscow will surely impose response measures, Maria Zakharova, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman, said on Wednesday.
"If Britain implements threats against Russian media, retaliatory measures will be imposed promptly. British journalists may ask their German colleagues how it happens," Zakharova told reporters.
Moscow to give strong response to US sanctions: MFA
"There should be no doubts - the sanctions will result in a strong response, not necessarily symmetric, but well-calculated and painful for the American side", the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Moscow also stressed that the American sanctions policy is counterproductive, but that it has also become a reflex for Washington.
"Russia has proved that, despite all the costs, we are able to minimise the damage. And even more so, sanctions pressure can't affect our determination to defend our interests", the statement read, noting that this round of anti-Russian sanctions (101st) will not achieve its goal.
Trump praises Putin as 'savvy'
Former US President Donald Trump praised Russian President Vladimir Putin's moves in Ukraine, calling him "savvy," after the Kremlin recognized the sovereignty of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics.
I went in yesterday and there was a television screen, and I said, 'This is genius.' Putin declares a big portion ... of Ukraine, Putin declares it as independent," Trump said in an interview Tuesday on the conservative Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show.
Trump said Putin’s tactics had been “smart”.
EU impose sanctions on Russian defence minister, military chiefs
Russia’s defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, the commanders-in-chief of the Russian Air Force and Black Sea Fleet, as well as 351 Duma deputies are expected to be targeted in EU sanctions announced later on Wednesday, the Guardian reported.
Beijing against imposing unilateral sanctions on Russia
China is against any unilateral restrictions and thinks that the introduction of sanctions is not the best way to settle differences, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a briefing on Wednesday in response to a question about the possibility of Beijing imposing sanctions on Russia over the issue of Ukraine, TASS reported.
"You are asking whether China will also introduce sanctions against Russia? Obviously, you are lacking the basic understanding of China’s government’s policy," she said. "The position of the Chinese government is that we think that the introduction of sanctions has never been the best way to resolve a problem. China has been consistently against any illegitimate unilateral sanctions," the diplomat noted.
Ukraine to impose state of emergency, says security official
Ukraine is set to impose a state of emergency on all of its territory, apart from the Donetsk and Luhansk regions where such a measure has already been in place since 2014, the country’s top security official says.
Oleksiy Danilov said that the measure would initially last for 30 days. It could be extended for another 30 days if required, he added.
The state of emergency must be formally approved by Ukraine’s parliament. A vote is expected to take place in the coming days.
Russia’s interests ‘non-negotiable’, Putin says
Russian President Putin said that Moscow is ready to look for “diplomatic solutions” to the crisis but has stressed that Russia’s interests are “non-negotiable”.
“Our country is always open for direct and honest dialogue, for the search for diplomatic solutions to the most complex problems,” he said in a video address to mark the Defender of Fatherland Day, a public holiday in Russia.
But he added that “the interests of Russia, the security of our citizens, are non-negotiable for us.”
Munich Re Syndicate stops insuring Nord Stream 2 amid fear of sanctions
A subsidiary of Germany’s Munich Re will no longer insure the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Europe amid the fear of sanctions by the US government, Reuters report citing an emailed statement.
“Munich Re Syndicate has issued the notice of termination to Nord Stream 2,” the statement read.
Russia’s FSB says it foiled act of terrorism in Crimea
Russia’s FSB security service announced it has foiled “an act of terrorism” in Crimea.
The FSB said it had also seized components for making explosive devices, RIA reported.
Ukraine urges citizens to leave Russia
Ukraine’s foreign ministry has warned the country’s nationals not to visit Russia and urged its citizens already there to leave the country.
“The foreign ministry recommends that citizens of Ukraine refrain from any trips to the Russian Federation, and those who are in this country to leave its territory immediately,” the ministry said in a newly-issued travel advisory.
China says sanctions never the best solution
Beijing has never thought sanctions are the best way to solve problems, China’s foreign ministry says, AlJazeera reported.
China hopes relevant parties can try to resolve their issues through dialogue and remain calm and exercise restraint, ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing when asked if the Asian nation would join Western countries in sanctioning Russia.
UK to stop Russia selling sovereign debt in London
The UK will stop Russia from selling sovereign debt in London, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss says.
“We’ve been very clear that we’re going to limit Russian access to British markets,” Truss told Sky. “We’re going to stop the Russian government with raising sovereign debt in the United Kingdom.
“There will be even more tough sanctions on key oligarchs, on key organisations in Russia, limiting Russia’s access to the financial markets, if there is a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.”
To limit sovereign debt sales in London, the UK would need additional legislation, according to Western officials. Clearing transactions would also be affected.
Russian envoy says Moscow to respond to Canada’s sanctions on rules of reciprocity
Russia will not leave another set of economic sanctions imposed by Canada unnoticed and will respond on the reciprocity principle, Russian Ambassador to Canada Oleg Stepanov told TASS on Tuesday.
"Obviously, Russia will respond. The response will be developed in accordance with rules of reciprocity existing in the diplomatic transnational practice. It will definitely follow," he said.
Japan imposes sanctions on Russia
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida says the measures include prohibiting the issuance of Russian bonds in Japan and freezing the assets of certain Russian individuals as well as restricting their travel to Japan.
Canada announces sanctions on Russia, deploys troops to Latvia
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced the first set of sanctions on Russia.
Under the plan, Canadians will be banned from engaging in purchases of Russian sovereign debt, and from all financial dealings with Luhansk and Donetsk.
Canada will also sanction members of the Russian parliament who voted for the decision to recognise Donetsk and Luhansk as independent.
Two state-backed Russian banks will also be subject to additional sanctions.
Trudeau is also sending more Canadian troops to eastern Europe, with as many as 460 members of the Canadian Armed Forces, mostly to Latvia.
Russian envoy says US’ sanctions on Moscow to hit hard financial, energy market
The sanctions against Russia announced by the US administration on Tuesday will hit hard the global financial and energy markets, with average American citizens feeling the consequences as well, Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov said when answering questions on new US restrictions.
"I can’t remember a day when our country lived without any western restrictions. We have learnt to work in such conditions, and not only to survive but to develop the state," he was quoted as saying by the press service of the embassy on Facebook. "Undoubtedly, the sanctions being imposed against us will hit hard the global financial and energy markets. The United States will not remain uninvolved either as average citizens will feel the consequences of the price growth," the diplomat said.
Australia imposes sanctions on Russia
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Wednesday that he would file the nation's own set of sanctions against Russia following Moscow's recognition of the independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics (DPR, LPR).
He detailed during his Wednesday announcement that sanctions would be imposed immediately, underscoring that the initiative would include travel bans and strikes against eight members of Russia's security council.
Additionally, there would be penalties against entities tied to Moscow, as well as against Russian banks, transport, energy, telecommunications, oil, gas and minerals.
Venezuela expresses support to Russia
Venezuela expresses all its support to Russian President Vladimir Putin amid the situation around Ukraine and supports the search for diplomatic solutions, Nicolas Maduro said.
“We watched the events in Russia and Ukraine, but not only now, we watched the US and NATO want to do away with Russia militarily, stop it and end this multipolar world… Venezuela will always be with Putin and Russia… All support to President Putin, all support to Russia," he said.
"We declare our support to all dialogue initiatives and the search for diplomatic solutions," he said.
White House says Putin-Biden summit certainly not in plans at this point
A summit between US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin is "certainly not in the plans" now amid escalated tensions over Ukraine, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said during a press briefing.
"At this point, that is certainly not in the plans," Psaki told reporters when asked if a meeting between Biden and Putin was still possible.
US' Blinken calls off Thursday meeting with Russia's Lavrov
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has called off a Thursday meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
"It does not make sense to go forward with that meeting at this time. I consulted with our allies and partners - all agree - and today [on February 22 - TASS) I sent Foreign Minister Lavrov a letter informing him of this," Blinken said at a joint press conference with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba on Tuesday.
"The United States, and I personally, remain committed to diplomacy if Russia is prepared to take demonstrable steps to provide the international community with any degree of confidence that it’s serious about de-escalating and finding a diplomatic solution. We will proceed, in coordination with allies and partners, based on Russia’s actions and the facts on the ground. But we will not allow Russia to claim the pretence of diplomacy at the same time it accelerates its march down the path of conflict and war," the US’ top diplomat noted.
"Now that <…> Russia has made clear its wholesale rejection of diplomacy," it is unnecessary to hold the talks that were previously planned, he said. "But, having said that, to the extent there is anything that we can do to avert an even worse-case scenario - an all-out assault on all of Ukraine, including its capital, <…> we, our partners remain open to diplomacy," Blinken added.
The meeting between Lavrov and Blinken was initiated earlier by Washington. Moscow gave consent to the meeting. It was suggested to organize the meeting in Geneva.
No need for total military mobilization in Ukraine: Zelensky
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Tuesday that the country does not need a total military mobilization at the moment, adding that reservists will be conscripted as the military is understaffed.
"Today, there is no need for a total mobilization. We need to quickly make the Ukrainian army and other military formations complete. I, as the supreme commander of the armed forces of Ukraine, issued a decree on calling up reservists during a special period. I emphasize that we are talking exclusively about citizens included in the operational reserve," Zelensky said in a video address.