Middle East

UK imposes sanctions on five Russian banks and three individuals

Russian President Putin recognises independence of two regions in Ukraine, paving way to provide them with military support and raising fears of invasion of Ukraine. Here are the latest updates:

Western powers have been bracing for an invasion as Russia massed an estimated 150,000 troops on three sides of neighbouring Ukraine.
(Reuters)

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

UK sanctions five Russian banks, three individuals

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the UK will sanction five Russian banks and three high net worth individuals including Gennady Timchenko after Russian President Vladimir Putin recognised two breakaway regions of east Ukraine.

“Today, the UK is sanctioning the following five Russian banks: Rossiya, IS Bank, General Bank, Promsvyazbank and the Black Sea Bank, and we’re sanctioning three very high net worth individuals,” Johnson told parliament.

The individuals concerned — Gennady Timchenko, Boris Rotenberg and Igor Rotenberg — will be banned from travelling to Britain and all UK individuals and entities will be banned from dealing with them and the banks.

The country also announced asset freezes and travel bans on high-profile individuals with close ties to President Putin.

It is absolutely vital that we hold in reserve further powerful sanctions … in view of what President Putin may do next.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Putin pledges uninterrupted gas supplies as sanctions loom

Russia will continue uninterrupted natural gas supplies to world markets, Putin has pledged, after Germany halted a key gas pipeline’s certification over Moscow’s troop deployment to two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine.

“Russia aims to continue uninterrupted (gas) supplies, including liquefied natural gas, to the world markets, improve related infrastructure and increase investments in the gas sector,” Putin said in written remarks for a gas summit in Qatar.

Europe secures some 40 percent of its gas needs from Russia and was looking into approval of a newly-built Nord Stream 2 undersea gas pipeline which connects Russia with Germany.

NATO announces urgent meeting with Ukraine envoy

NATO has announced an “extraordinary” meeting with Ukraine’s envoy after Russia recognised two separatist regions in the east of the country as independent.

A statement from the alliance said NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg would brief media after the talks with non-NATO member Ukraine.

EU, US welcomes Germany’s decision to halt Nord Stream 2

Europe’s energy supply would not be affected if the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline designed to bring Russian gas to Germany was halted, since the pipeline is not yet operating, the European Commission has said.

“Nord Stream 2 is not yet functioning, is not supplying energy to Europe. It’s not a different source of energy, it’s a different pipeline for an existing supplier… There’s no change in the current situation,” a Commission spokesperson told a regular press briefing.

The White House welcomed Germany’s decision and said that US sanctions would be announced soon.

READ MORE: Germany: Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project with Russia suspended

EU proposes Russia sanctions targeting banks, market access

The EU is set to target banks financing Russian operations in Ukraine’s separatist territories following Moscow’s recognition of their independence, and hit Moscow’s access to European financial markets.

The proposed sanctions, which also include blacklisting officials and hitting trade with the breakaway regions, will be formally submitted later in the day, said a statement from EU chiefs Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel.

The measures have to be approved by all 27 EU members states.

Western leaders allege Russia sending troops to east Ukraine

Western leaders have said that Russian troops have moved into rebel-held areas in eastern Ukraine after Putin recognised their independence.

But some indicated it was not yet the long-feared, full-fledged invasion.

Russia is not planning to send troops to eastern Ukraine “for now” but will do so in case of a “threat”, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko earlier said, after Moscow’s parliament ratified cooperation deals with Ukraine’s separatist republics.

China concerned about ‘worsening’ Ukraine situation

China is concerned about the “worsening” situation in Ukraine, Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said, repeating his call for all parties to show restraint and resolve differences through dialogue.

The legitimate security concerns of any country should be respected, Wang, who is also a Chinese state councillor, told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a telephone call, the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The situation in Ukraine is worsening,” Wang told Blinken. “China once again calls on all parties to exercise restraint.”

Iran urges ‘restraint’ in Ukraine crisis, blames West

Iran has urged “restraint” from both Russia and Ukraine while blaming the United States and NATO for the sharp escalation of tensions.

The Islamic Republic of Iran calls on all parties to exercise restraint and avoid any action that could aggravate tensions

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Ministry spokesperson Said Khatibzadeh added that “unfortunately, the interventions and provocative actions of NATO and mainly the US have complicated the situation in the region.

“We are following the issues related to this country with sensitivity.”

UK to immediately impose hard economic sanctions on Russia

Britain will immediately impose hard economic sanctions on Russia, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said.

“We will immediately institute a package of economic sanctions,” Johnson told reporters.

The sanctions, he said, would be “targeted not just at entities in Donbass and Luhansk and Donetsk, but in Russia itself – targeting Russian economic interests as hard as we can.”

Ukraine reports two soldiers killed, 12 wounded

The Ukrainian military has said two soldiers have been killed and 12 wounded in shelling by pro-Russian separatists in east Ukraine in the past 24 hours.

The military said on its Facebook page it had recorded 84 cases of shelling by separatists who it said had opened fire on about 40 settlements along the front line using heavy artillery.

Ukraine has accused Russia of provoking the violence, saying Moscow used it as a pretext to formally recognise eastern Ukraine as independent and move its troops into the region.

Servicemen of Ukrainian Military Forces walk along tranches on their position on the front line with Russia backed separatists, near Novognativka village, Donetsk region.
Servicemen of Ukrainian Military Forces walk along tranches on their position on the front line with Russia backed separatists, near Novognativka village, Donetsk region.
(AFP)

US, allies lambast Russia over Ukraine at UN Security Council

The United States and its allies rounded on Russia during an emergency Security Council session, denouncing Vladimir Putin’s recognition of rebel-held areas in Ukraine.

They termed Russian deployment of troops in the two breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine as a gross violation of international law and “pretext for war.”

Ukraine’s ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya insisted that his country’s borders remain “unchangeable” despite Russia’s actions.

Addressing the council, US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield heaped scorn on Putin’s assertion that the Russian troops would take on a peacekeeping role in the Donetsk and Luhansk areas.

China at UN urges restraint by all sides

China has called for restraint by “all sides” to avoid further escalation in the Ukraine crisis, urging a diplomatic solution during an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting.

“All parties concerned must exercise restraint and avoid any action that may fuel tensions. We welcome and encourage every effort for a diplomatic solution,” said Zhang Jun, China’s ambassador to the UN.

Civilians evacuated from Donetsk and Luhansk, located in Donbas region, arrive in Rostov, Russia following their evacuation.
Civilians evacuated from Donetsk and Luhansk, located in Donbas region, arrive in Rostov, Russia following their evacuation.
(AA)

US to announce sanctions against Russia

The United States is coordinating with allies and will announce new sanctions against Russia.

“Tomorrow, the United States will impose sanctions on Russia for this clear violation of international law and Ukraine sovereignty and territorial integrity,” US Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said after a UN Security Council meeting.

Russia remains ‘open to diplomacy’: envoy

Russian envoy to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya said Moscow remains “open to diplomacy” but stressed the need to defend separatist areas from what he dubbed Ukrainian aggression.

“We remain open to diplomacy for a diplomatic solution,” he said during an emergency UN Security Council meeting. 

“Allowing a new bloodbath in the Donbass is something we do not intend to do.”

Russian envoy to UN, Vasily Nebenzya

Türkiye urges its citizens to leave eastern Ukraine

Türkiye has “strongly” urged its citizens to leave eastern regions of Ukraine.

“In the light of the latest developments, we strongly urge our citizens to leave the Eastern regions of Ukraine. We recommend our citizens to contact our Embassy in Kiev when necessary,” said the Turkish Foreign Ministry in a statement.

Japan says its ready to join US-led sanctions on Russia

Japan said it stood ready to join the United States and other G7 industrialized nations in slapping sanctions on Russia, should President Vladimir Putin order an invasion of Ukraine.

The confirmation by the world’s No. 3 economy comes as the crisis in Europe deepens, with the Russian leader on Monday ordering troops into two breakaway regions in Eastern Ukraine that Russia now recognises as independent states.

READ MORE: World reacts to Russia’s recognition of Ukraine regions as ‘independent’

Monday, February 21, 2022

Military vehicles including tanks, APCs seen on Donetsk outskirts

Columns of military vehicles including tanks and armoured personnel carriers have rolled on the outskirts of Donetsk, the capital of one of two breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine after Russian President Vladimir Putin recognised them as independent states.

Reuters news agency, citing its witness, said no insignia were visible, but the appearance of the vehicles came hours after Putin signed friendship treaties with the two separatist regions and ordered Russian troops to deploy on what Moscow called a peacekeeping operation.

Reuters reporters in Donetsk had not seen tanks on the streets in previous days.

President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops into two rebel-backed regions of eastern Ukraine, sparking fears of a wider conflict in the region.
President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops into two rebel-backed regions of eastern Ukraine, sparking fears of a wider conflict in the region.
(TRTWorld)

Ukraine’s borders remain ‘unchangeable’ despite Russian action

Ukraine’s borders remain “unchangeable” regardless of Russia’s recent actions, Kiev’s ambassador to the United Nations has told the Security Council.

“The internationally recognised borders of Ukraine have been and will remain unchangeable regardless of any statements and actions by the Russian Federation,” Sergiy Kyslytsya said during an emergency meeting called after Russian President Vladimir Putin recognised the independence of two rebel-held areas in eastern Ukraine.

He demanded Russia “cancel recognition” of two eastern breakaway regions and end occupation of Ukrainian territories. 

Russia tells UN it won’t allow ‘bloodbath’ in Ukraine’s Donbass

Russian envoy to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya has said Moscow remains “open to diplomacy” but stressed the need to defend separatist areas from what he dubbed Ukrainian aggression.

“We remain open to diplomacy for a diplomatic solution,” he said during an emergency UN Security Council meeting. 

“However, allowing a new bloodbath in the Donbass is something we do not intend to do.”

Nebenzya also warned Western powers to “think twice” and not worsen the situation in Ukraine.

Russia’s order to deploy ‘peacekeepers’ in eastern Ukraine is ‘nonsense’

Russia’s order to deploy “peacekeepers” in eastern Ukraine is “nonsense,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US ambassador to the United Nations has told Security Council meeting, adding that Moscow’s recognition of the breakaway eastern regions was a part of its attempt to create a pretext for a further invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking at an emergency UN Security Council meeting on Ukraine, Greenfield said the consequences of Russia’s actions will be dire across Ukraine, Europe and worldwide and that the humanitarian toll will expand significantly if Moscow invaded further.

Putin wants the world to travel back in time, to a time when empires ruled, this is not 1919

US envoy to UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield

Zelenskyy: Russia has destroyed peace efforts 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Russia of wrecking peace talks and ruled out making any territorial concessions in an address to the nation.

Zelenskyy said Ukraine was committed to peace and diplomacy after Russia formally recognised two Russian-backed separatist regions as independent on Monday evening.

He said Ukraine is “not afraid of anything or anyone.”

The president said Ukraine was expecting “clear and effective” steps from its allies to act against Russia and called for an emergency summit of the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France.

We are committed to the peaceful and diplomatic path, we will follow it and only it. But we are on our own land, we are not afraid of anything and anybody, we owe nothing to no one, and we will give nothing to no one

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy

Australia asks Russia to move its troops behind its own borders

Australia will be in lockstep with its allies on any sanctions on Russia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said.

Russia should unconditionally move its troops behind its own borders and stop threatening its neighbours, Morrison said during a media briefing.

“It’s unacceptable, it’s unprovoked, it’s unwarranted …some suggestion that they are peacekeeping is nonsense,” Morrison said.

Tanks seen in Donetsk

A Reuters news agency witness has seen columns of military vehicles including tanks on the outskirts of Donetsk, the capital of one of the breakaways east Ukraine regions.

UNSC to meet urgently on Ukraine crisis

The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting over Ukraine.

The meeting comes at the request of Ukraine, the United States and six other countries. Russia, which currently holds the rotating council presidency, has scheduled it for 9 pm [New York time.]

Yet undetermined is whether the meeting will be open or closed.

Ukrainian UN ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya said in a letter to his Russian counterpart that Kiev is requesting the urgent meeting because Putin’s actions violate Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, the UN Charter, and a 2014 UN General Assembly resolution.

It is virtually certain the Security Council will not take any action or issue any statement because Russia has veto power.

Türkiye: Russia’s recognition of Ukraine regions ‘unacceptable’

Türkiye has assailed Russia’s recognition of two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine as independent, calling it a violation of international agreements and Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

“The decision of Russia to recognise the Donetsk and Luhansk Republics amounts to a clear violation of not only the Minsk agreements but also Ukraine’s political unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.

“We find Russia’s so-called decision to be unacceptable and reject it,” the ministry said, calling on all sides to respect international law.

NATO member Türkiye, which shares a maritime border with both Ukraine and Russia in the Black Sea, has good ties with both its neighbours, and has offered to mediate the crisis, while warning Moscow against invading Ukraine. Ankara also opposes sanctions on Russia.

READ MORE: Ukraine’s ‘revolution of dignity’ was a ‘point of no return’

We find Russia’s so-called decision to be unacceptable and reject it

Turkish Foreign Ministry

Pro-Russian activists react on a street as fireworks explode in the sky, after Russian President Putin signed a decree recognising two Russian-backed breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine as independent entities, in the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk, February 21, 2022.
Pro-Russian activists react on a street as fireworks explode in the sky, after Russian President Putin signed a decree recognising two Russian-backed breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine as independent entities, in the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk, February 21, 2022.
(Reuters)

US, allies request emergency UNSC meeting on Ukraine

The United States and allies including France have requested an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Russia’s recognition of separatist territories in Ukraine as independent, diplomats told the AFP news agency.

The countries behind the request for the meeting, based on a letter from Ukraine to the UN, also include the United Kingdom, Ireland and Albania, the same sources said.

It is up to the rotating presidency of the Council, currently held by Russia, to formally schedule the meeting.

READ MORE:
How a tiny breakaway state called Transnistria can alter the Ukraine crisis

OSCE reports more than 3,000 ceasefire violations 

Monitors from the OSCE European security body have reported more than 3,000 new ceasefire violations in east Ukraine, a high for the year that came ahead of Russia’s decision to recognise separatist regions there.

In a daily report based on information received by Sunday evening, the OSCE reported 2,158 new violations in the Donetsk region and another 1,073 in neighbouring Luhansk.

Russia now has right to build military bases in eastern Ukraine

Russia has acquired the right to build military bases in Ukraine’s two breakaway regions under new agreements with their separatist leaders there, according to a copy of an agreement signed by President Putin published on Monday.

Russia and the breakaway regions also plan to sign separate agreements on military cooperation and protection of borders, according to draft laws that Russia’s State Duma lower house of parliament will consider. 

READ MORE: Russia’s Putin recognises Ukraine breakaway regions as independent

US assures support to Ukraine

US President Joe Biden has condemned a decision by Russian President Putin to recognise two breakaway regions of Ukraine as he spoke to world leaders following the latest developments in the crisis.

“Biden strongly condemned Russian President Putin’s decision to purportedly recognise the “independence” of the so-called DNR and LNR regions of Ukraine,” on a call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the White House said.

Biden also “updated President Zelenskyy on the United States’ response, including our plan to issue sanctions. President Biden reiterated that the United States would respond swiftly and decisively, in lock-step with its Allies and partners, to further Russian aggression against Ukraine.”

Biden also discussed with France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Olaf Scholz “how they will continue to coordinate their response on next steps”, according to another statement.

Putin orders Russian troops to eastern Ukraine’s breakaway regions

President Vladimir Putin has ordered his Defence Ministry to dispatch Russian peacekeepers to eastern Ukraine’s two breakaway regions, according to a decree published after Moscow recognised their “independence” from Kiev. 

In two official decrees late on Monday, Putin instructed the ministry to assume “the function of maintaining peace” in so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.

Russia recognised both regions as independent statelets, defying Western warnings that such a step would be illegal and kill off long-running peace negotiations.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies



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