June 20, 2024

Escalation in the Ukrainian conflict |  Abroad

Escalation in the Ukrainian conflict | Abroad

International – A dramatic escalation in the Ukrainian conflict: Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered sending troops into the besieged east of the country.

The units are supposed to ensure “peace” in the “people’s republics of Luhansk and Donetsk”, which he had just recognized as independent states. This came from a decree signed by the head of the Kremlin in Moscow on Monday.

It was not initially clear when the soldiers would move into areas controlled by the pro-Russian separatists. The United States and the European Union announced punitive measures.

A ceasefire agreed years ago in Donetsk and Luhansk is no longer in place due to hundreds of violations, and Ukrainian government forces and rebels are fighting there.

According to Western information, Russia has collected about 150 thousand soldiers on the border with the neighboring country. Thus, an early advance into eastern Ukraine would be easily possible. Moscow for weeks denied Western fears that an invasion might be imminent.

The decision is likely to inflame the conflict in Ukraine. The European Union will respond with sanctions, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Council President Charles Michel said in the evening. She added that punitive measures should include those involved. Von der Leyen and Michel condemned the decision as a “flagrant violation of international law and the territorial integrity of Ukraine”.

The US government will also impose sanctions, announced US President Joe Biden’s spokeswoman, Jen Psaki. These actions will affect, among other things, investments or trade by US persons with a view to Donetsk and Luhansk. Biden reiterated that the United States, in conjunction with its allies and partners, would respond “quickly and decisively” to any further Russian aggression against Ukraine.

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also condemned Putin’s move, calling it a “blatant violation of international law” and spoke of a “flagrant violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and integrity.”

With the purpose of fighting in Donbass, Putin called on the Ukrainian leadership to immediately cease fire in Ukraine. Otherwise, Kiev will bear full responsibility for this, he said. The head of the Kremlin also accused NATO of starting the “fatal seizure” of Ukraine. The West wants to open Ukraine as a “theatre for potential hostilities”.

Pro-Russian separatist leaders in the two regions had previously asked Putin to help fight Ukrainian government forces. According to United Nations estimates, more than 14,000 people have been killed in the eight-year conflict.

In the televised address, despite the lack of evidence, Putin spoke of a mass crime against people of Russian origin in eastern Ukraine. “The so-called civilized world prefers to ignore the genocide committed by Kiev in the Donbass,” Putin said. Four million people are affected. The United States recently accused Russia of possibly wanting to use its accusation of genocide as a pretext for its invasion.

Putin also accused NATO of years of deception. When Germany was unified in Soviet times, Russia received promises that NATO would not expand to the east in the least. “You betrayed us,” Putin said, accusing the Western alliance of having already pushed five waves of eastward expansion — and of treating Russia as an enemy. “Why all this? Why?” Putin asked. He had recently warned several times against Ukraine joining NATO. This threatens the security of Russia.

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Putin also warned of the possibility of manufacturing nuclear weapons in Ukraine. “Ukraine still possesses nuclear technologies and Soviet delivery systems for such weapons.”

Foreign Minister Annalina Barbuk condemned Russia’s recognition of the separatist regions as a “flagrant violation of international law” and “a serious blow to all diplomatic efforts aimed at a peaceful settlement and a political solution to the current conflict.”

Chancellor Olaf Schultz, US President Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron spoke by phone in the evening and agreed that this move by Russia would not go unanswered. According to a spokesperson, the three declared their solidarity with Ukraine. The partners agreed that their commitment to Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty would not be compromised. Among other things, Macron called an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council.

“What we experienced tonight may seem surreal to the democratic world. But the way we interact with it will define us for generations to come,” said Lithuanian President Gitanas Nosida. Lithuania, a member of the European Union and NATO, also feels threatened by Russia.

The Kremlin had earlier dashed hopes that Putin and Biden would meet soon. The foreign ministers of Russia and the United States want to meet in Geneva on Thursday.

Deputy Chairman of the Security Council Dmitry Medvedev said that Russia realizes that this step will have serious consequences in light of the sanctions threatened by the West. However, given the situation, there is no other option than to recognize the territories. The pressure on Russia will be unprecedented. The hope is that the conflict will subside after that.

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