Russia said Tuesday that its recognition of separatist areas in eastern Ukraine includes territory now held by Ukrainian forces, raising Western fears that Moscow intends to invade more of Ukraine’s territory after sending troops into the rebel-held region.
In Washington, Jonathan Finer, the White House principal deputy national security adviser, used the term “invasion” Tuesday to describe Russia’s deployment of troops into two pro-Russian separatist regions of Ukraine. He called it “the beginning of an invasion” and said that “you’re already seeing the beginning of our response.”
In Berlin, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Tuesday that he would halt authorization of Nord Stream 2, the controversial natural gas pipeline between Germany and Russia, for the time being.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia has recognized the independence of rebel-held regions within borders that the separatists originally proclaimed when they broke away from Ukraine in 2014. Because large parts of those regions have since been reclaimed by Ukrainian forces during their eight-year war, Russia’s declaration could lead to attempts to expand the breakaway region by force.
Moscow’s recognition of the enclaves Monday spurred the United States and its allies to gear up for a fresh set of sanctions on Russia after it also sent in forces it described as peacekeeping troops.
European leaders said Tuesday morning that Kremlin forces have arrived in the self-proclaimed republics. European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said that “Russian troops are on Ukrainian soil” but that it was not a “fully fledged invasion.”
Here’s what to know
- President Biden signed an executive order Monday blocking trade and investment by Americans in two separatist enclaves of Ukraine. Administration officials said additional measures — including more sanctions — would be announced Tuesday, distinct from the strict measures promised if Russia further invades Ukraine.
- The State Department moved its personnel from Ukraine to Poland on Monday amid fears of Russia’s “plans for an invasion at any moment,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.
- Beijing continues to walk a tightrope of supporting Russia without outright endorsing its actions in Ukraine, with China’s ambassador to the United Nations calling on all parties involved to “seek reasonable solutions” and address concerns based on “equality and mutual respect.”
UNDERSTANDING THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE CRISIS