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Russian President Vladimir Putin signs documents, including a decree recognising two Russian-backed breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine as independent entities, during a ceremony in Moscow, Russia, in this picture released February 21, 2022. Image Credit: Reuters

Stocks slide, oil jumps as Russia orders troops to Ukraine regions

Global stocks tumbled while safe-havens rallied and oil surged on Tuesday as Europe's eastern flank stood on the brink of war after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan skidded 1.44 per cent, dragged down by markets in Hong Kong and mainland China. Japan's Nikkei shed 2 per cent.

S&P 500 futures fell 1.5 per cent, Nasdaq futures lost 2.2 per cent, and the Russian rouble briefly touched an 18-month low in early Asia trade on Tuesday, after Russia's MOEX equity index had fallen 10.5 per cent the day before.

In contrast, Brent crude futures rose 2 per cent to $97.21, touching a new seven-year high on worries Russia's energy exports could get disrupted, and spot gold hit a new six-month top of $1,911.56.

Japan condemns Russia recognising breakaway regions in Ukraine

Japan condemns Russia's recognition of two breakaway regions in Ukraine as independent and its decree to build military bases there, a top government spokesperson said on Tuesday.

"These actions violate Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, violate international law and are utterly unacceptable," said Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno.

He said Japan is monitoring the development with serious concern and will take actions depending on the actual situation, including deploying sanctions.

Russia calling troops in Ukraine peacekeepers is 'nonsense': US envoy

The US ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield on Monday called it “nonsense” that Vladimir Putin claimed his troops ordered to eastern Ukraine would be peacekeepers.

“We know what they really are,” said the US envoy, speaking at an emergency Security Council meeting on the Ukraine crisis. Her remarks followed those of Rosemary DiCarlo, the Under-Secretary-General for peacebuilding, who voiced “regret” that Russian troops were deployed into the two eastern separatist regions.

US diplomats move from Ukraine to Poland

United States diplomatic staff, who had been moved from Kyiv to the western city of Lviv, will be spending the night in Poland, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday as the crisis in Ukraine deepens.

“Today the Department of State is again taking action for the safety and security of US citizens, including our personnel,” he said in a statement.

“For security reasons, Department of State personnel currently in Lviv will spend the night in Poland.”

US cautious on whether Russian troops in Donbass constitutes invasion

The United States took a wait-and-see attitude Monday to President Vladimir Putin's order for Russian troops to deploy in separatist areas of Ukraine, saying that talks remain possible "until the tanks roll."

President Joe Biden imposed sanctions on the two Russian-backed areas in eastern Ukraine's Donbass region.

But a senior US official declined to characterize whether Putin's order for Russian armed forces to conduct "peacekeeping" there counts as an invasion, thereby triggering much wider and more severe Western sanctions against Moscow.

"We are going to assess what Russia's done," the official told reporters, stressing that Russian forces have already been deployed covertly in the separatist areas for eight years.

"Russian troops moving into Donbass would not be a new step," he said.

"We'll continue to pursue diplomacy until the tanks roll."

Ukraine 'not afraid of anyone': President

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has told the nation that Ukraine is “not afraid of anyone or anything”.

He spoke during a chaotic day in which Russia appeared to be moving closer to an invasion, with President Vladimir Putin recognizing separatist regions of eastern Ukraine and then ordering forces there.

The UN Security Council has scheduled an emergency meeting for Monday night, and the US has moved to impose sanctions.

Tanks seen in Donetsk after Putin speech: Reuters witness

A Reuters witness saw columns of military vehicles including tanks in the early hours of Tuesday on the outskirts of Donetsk, the capital of one of the breakaway east Ukraine regions, after Russian President Vladimir Putin recognised the regions as independent states.

Japan weighing joining US-led sanctions

Japan's government is considering joining the United States and its allies in slapping sanctions against Russia, such as halting semiconductor exports, if it invades Ukraine, the Yomiuri newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Japan is also weighing imposing financial sanctions against Russia, the newspaper said.

Biden signs order targeting economic activity with Ukraine rebel regions

US President Joe Biden signed an executive order to prohibit trade and investment between US individuals and the two breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine recognized as independent by Russia on Monday, the White House said.

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U.S. President Joe Biden signs an executive order to prohibit trade and investment between U.S. individuals and the two breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine recognized as independent by Russia, at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 21, 2022. Image Credit: Reuters

Included is the prohibition of “new investment” by an American, wherever located, and the “importation into the United States, directly or indirectly, of any goods, services, or technology from the covered regions.”

US, UK, France ask UN Security Council to meet Monday on Ukraine

The United States, Britain and France have asked the UN Security Council to meet later on Monday on Ukraine after Russia recognized two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine as independent entities, diplomats said.

Council members Albania, Ireland, Norway and Mexico also support the 15-member body meeting on Monday, diplomats said.

Russia, as current president of the Security Council, is responsible for scheduling the meeting.

US casts doubt on Biden summit with Putin

US President Joe Biden’s agreement in principle to meet President Vladimir Putin may be off after Russia declared two breakaway regions of Ukraine as independent on Monday, and the United States will announce further measures, likely sanctions-related, on Tuesday, a senior administration official said.

The official, speaking to reporters on a conference call, said the United States would continue to pursue diplomacy with Moscow over Ukraine “until the tanks roll.”

Canada condemns Russian move on breakaway regions

Canada condemns Russia’s decision to recognize two eastern Ukrainian regions controlled by separatists as independent and will impose sanctions in response, Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said on Monday.

“Canada, with its partners and allies, will react firmly to this blatant disregard for international law,” Joly said in a statement. “We are preparing to impose economic sanctions for these actions, separate from those prepared to respond to any further military invasion of Ukraine by Russia.”

France's Macron believes Putin broke commitments on Ukraine

French President Emmanuel Macron considers that Russian President Vladimir Putin has broken his commitments, and that his decision to escalate the situation in Ukraine needs to be sanctioned, the Elysee palace said on Monday.

It added that Macron wants the European Union to take proportionate and targeted sanctions against Russia for violating international treaties.

“President Putin delivered a historico-political speech that was accusatory and mixed various considerations of a rigid and paranoid nature,” a French presidential official told reporters, referring to Putin’s comments on Ukraine earlier Monday.

Macron went as far as possible on the diplomatic path, they added, but still wants Fridays planned meeting of Russian and French foreign ministers in Paris to go ahead.

Putin orders 'peacekeepers' into Ukraine breakaway regions

President Vladimir Putin ordered his defence ministry to despatch Russian peacekeepers to eastern Ukraine’s two breakaway regions, according to a decree published early on Tuesday after he said Moscow would recognise their independence.

Putin earlier signed decrees to recognise the two breakaway regions — the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic — as independent statelets defying Western warnings that such a step would be illegal and kill off long-running peace negotiations.

Latvia to send missiles to Ukraine

Latvia will deliver Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine on Tuesday, a Latvian foreign ministry spokesperson told Reuters on Monday evening.

Baltic states Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania said on Jan. 21 they would provide Ukraine with US-made anti-armour and anti-aircraft missiles, days after receiving clearance from the US State Department to send US-made missiles and other weapons there.

Lithuania sent Stinger missiles on Feb. 13 and Estonia sent Javelin anti-armor missiles on Friday.

White House: Biden to prohibit trade, investment with Ukraine breakaway regions

President Joe Biden will issue an executive order soon that will prohibit “new investment, trade, and financing by US persons to, from, or in” the two breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine that Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized as independent entities on Monday, the White House said.

The order will “also provide authority to impose sanctions on any person determined to operate in those areas of Ukraine,” White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement.

Psaki said more measures were forthcoming and said these were separate from sanctions that the United States and its allies have been preparing if Russia invades Ukraine.

Ukraine president speaks to Biden after Putin speech

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Monday said he spoke to US President Joe Biden as Russia moved to recognise two regions controlled by Russian-backed separatists as independent.

Zelenskiy tweeted he also planned to speak to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and that he was starting a meeting of his national security and defence council.

Putin's recognition of breakaway Ukraine regions is clear break of international law: UK's Johnson

The apparent recognition of breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine by Russian President Vladimir Putin is a breach of international law, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday.

While Johnson was speaking, Putin signed a decree recognising the independence of the two breakaway regions of Luhansk and Donetsk regions, which broke away from Kyiv’s control in 2014.

“I gather just as I came into this press conference that Vladimir Putin has effectively announced that Russia is recognising the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. This is plainly in breach of international law. It’s a ... flagrant violation of the sovereignty and integrity of Ukraine,” Johnson told a press conference.

Russia accuses Ukraine forces of killing civilians

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday accused Ukrainian forces of killing civilians by shelling residential areas in separatist-held eastern Ukraine, as he said Russia would recognise the independence of two breakaway regions there.

Putin asked parliament to support his decision.

Ukraine has denied targeting civilians and accuses Russia-backed separatists of shelling residential areas, something they in turn deny.

Latvia calls for immediate EU sanctions on Russia

The European Union must impose sanctions on Russia immediately after it recognised Ukraine’s breakaway regions as countries, Latvia’s foreign minister said on Monday.

“Decision to recognise so-called Donetsk & Luhansk peoples republics by Russia is a flagrant violation of international law and Ukraines territorial integrity. Latvia condemns this act of aggression and calls for strong intl response. EU must impose sanctions immediately,” Edgars Rinkevics tweeted.

Putin signs decree to recognise breakaway Ukrainian regions

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree to recognise two breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine as independent entities in a signing ceremony shown on state television on Monday.

Putin said he was confident that Russia’s citizens supported the decision, brushing off Western warnings that such a step would be illegal and would kill off peace negotiations.

Putin airs grievances in emotional speech about Ukraine

President Vladimir Putin railed against Ukraine in a televised address on Monday, saying that neo-Nazis were on the rise, oligarchic clans were rife and that the ex-Soviet country was a US colony with a puppet regime.

Russia’s rouble, already under pressure from a vast Russian military buildup near Ukraine, tumbled to new weeks-long lows as he spoke from behind a wooden office desk flanked by Russian tricolour flags.

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Monday that Western powers were using Moscow’s feud with Ukraine to threaten Russia’s own security. Image Credit: AFP

He described eastern Ukraine as ancient Russian lands and modern Ukraine as a state created by the Bolsheviks after the 1917 revolution.

He said that Ukraine never had a tradition of genuine statehood and complained that post-Soviet Ukraine had wanted everything it could from Moscow without doing anything in return.

Ahead of the speech, Putin said that Russia would decide on Monday whether or not to recognise the independence of two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine.

Israel moves Kyiv embassy to Lviv: Foreign Ministry

Israel is moving its embassy in Kyiv to Lviv in western Ukraine, the foreign ministry said on Monday in a statement.

Several Western countries have also transferred diplomats from Kiev to Lviv, located near the border with Poland, in anticipation of Russian military action.

"Following a situation assessment... Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has decided to instruct staff at the Israeli embassy in Kiev to move to consular offices opened in the city of Lviv in western Ukraine," the ministry said in a statement.

Earlier in February Israel announced it would evacuate the families of its diplomats and other embassy personnel from Ukraine due to escalating tensions between Kyiv and Moscow.

Putin to recognise Ukraine rebel territories as independent: Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin will recognise the independence of eastern Ukraine's separatist republics, the Kremlin said in a statement Monday, adding that he had informed the French and German leaders of his decision.

"In the near future, the president plans to sign the order," the Kremlin said. It added that French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had "expressed disappointment" over the decision in phone calls with Putin.

EU will put sanctions on table if Moscow recognises eastern Ukraine regions: Borrell

The European Union will ask member states to decide over sanctions on Russia should Moscow recognise the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics in eastern Ukraine, the EU's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said on Monday.

"If there is annexation there will be sanctions, and if there is recognition I will put the sanctions on the table and the ministers will decide," he told reporters after a meeting of the bloc's foreign ministers in Brussels.

France's Macron calls emergency national security meeting

France's Macron calls emergency national security meeting 

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday called an emergency national security meeting to address recent developments linked to the crisis in Ukraine, the Elysee Palace said on Monday.

Putin to make televised address 'soon'

Russian President Vladimir Putin was expected to make a televised address, state media said Monday evening, shortly after he met with security officials and said a decision would be taken "today" on recognising Ukraine separatists.

"Urgent. Putin to make address soon," read a banner on the state-run news channel Rossiya-24, shortly after the meeting with security officials and appeals from separatist leaders for official recognition earlier in the day.

Ukraine says everyone must focus on de-escalation efforts

Ukraine's foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Monday that after Russian statements on possible recognition of breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine, everyone has to focus on de-escalation efforts.

"Everyone realizes consequences. A lot of emotions out there, but it's exactly now that we all should calmly focus on de-escalation efforts. No other way," Kuleba tweeted.

Kuleba said he would discuss de-escalation efforts with US Secretary of State on Tuesday during a trip to Washington.

Putin to decide 'today' on Ukraine rebel

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he'll decide later whether to officially recognise separatists in eastern Ukraine, a move that would likely torpedo European-mediated peace talks and further escalate tensions with the West.

A meeting of Putin's Security Council held on the issue came against a backdrop of heightened concern over Russia's troop buildup near Ukraine, even as Moscow continues to deny it plans to invade. Russia's military said it had killed five "saboteurs" and destroyed two Ukrainian armored personnel carriers it said crossed into its territory. Kyiv denied the claim.

A diplomatic flurry continues to try and avert a potential conflict, although those efforts suffered a setback on Monday as Moscow said there were "no concrete plans" for a summit between Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden, throwing into question the fate of a French proposal publicized hours earlier. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will speak with Putin later Monday while French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian spoke with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov by phone and invited him to Paris on Friday for talks.

Biden meets national security team on Russia, Ukraine, official says

US President Joe Biden is meeting his national security team on Monday about Russia and Ukraine, a White House official said, as Russian President Vladimir Putin weighed a request by two regions of eastern Ukraine to be recognised as independent, a move that could give Moscow a reason to openly send in troops.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the White House official made the comments after a Reuters eyewitness saw Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and General Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrive at the White House on the US Presidents Day federal holiday.

Putin to decide 'today' on Ukraine rebel

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday he would decide 'today' on recognising Ukraine rebels.

Putin convened top officials Monday to consider recognising the independence of separatist regions in eastern Ukraine, a move that would ratchet up tensions with the West amid fears that the Kremlin could launch an invasion of Ukraine imminently.

Putin says he may recognise breakaway regions of Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday he was considering a request by two regions of eastern Ukraine held by Russian-backed separatists to be recognised as independent - a move that could give Moscow a reason to openly send troops.

Separately, Moscow said Ukrainian military saboteurs had tried to enter Russian territory in armed vehicles, an accusation dismissed as "fake news" by Kyiv amid Western accusations that Moscow aims to fabricate a pretext to invade.

Washington says Russia has now massed a force numbering 169,000-190,000 troops in the region, including pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Stocks retreat as Russia downplays hopes of Biden-Putin summit

Stock markets mostly fell Monday as the Kremlin warned there were no firm plans for a summit between US President Joe Biden and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to avert a possible Moscow invasion of Ukraine.

Warnings from US officials that Russia could invade its neighbour imminently sent markets spiralling last week and briefly sent crude surging towards $100 per barrel as traders fret over already tight supplies.

The Ukraine crisis hacompounded worries about decades-high inflation that is causing central banks to hike interest rates.

Asian and European equity markets mostly retreated Monday, though London managed to edge higher on hopes for the UK economy as Prime Minister Boris Johnson was set to announce an end to all pandemic legal curbs in England.

Putin must decide on 'possible' Biden summit, France says

France on Monday called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to make a decision on meeting US counterpart Joe Biden in a summit proposed by Paris to ease soaring tensions over Ukraine.

"It is today possible to move towards a summit... Now it is up to President Putin to make his choice," a French presidential official, who asked not to be named, told reporters, describing the situation as "very dangerous" and the parties as "walking a fine line".

Russia says Putin-Biden summit not confirmed yet

Russia said Monday there were "no concrete plans" yet for a summit between Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden, hours after the White House said it had agreed in principle to a meeting to help resolve the standoff over Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said a meeting or call between Biden and Putin remains possible if the two leaders see the need for it but the specific agreement so far extended only to the US and Russian foreign ministers, who are due to meet on Thursday. Putin would also hold a special session of Russia's Security Council Monday, Peskov said, declining to comment on the topic.

France initially announced a possible summit late on Sunday after shuttle phone calls involving President Emmanuel Macron, appearing to offer new hope for averting what the US says is a Russian plan to invade Ukraine. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied it intends to attack even as it sustains a military buildup near Ukraine and extends military drills in Belarus.

Scholz to hold telephone talks with Putin

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin by telephone later Monday in a further effort to ease tensions over Ukraine, the German government spokesman said.

Steffen Hebestreit said the planned call "this afternoon" had been "closely coordinated" with French President Emmanuel Macron, who spoke to Putin on Sunday.

He said the talks were part of "joint diplomatic efforts" by the West to "prevent a catastrophe" in Ukraine.

Baltic foreign ministers to visit Ukraine together this week

The foreign ministers of the three Baltic states - Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - will visit Ukraine together later this week in a show of solidarity, the Latvian foreign minister said on Monday, amid continued fears of a possible Russian invasion.

The ministers will be in Ukraine from Wednesday to Friday, Edgars Rinkevics tweeted.

The three Baltic states, unlike Ukraine, are all members of NATO and the European Union.

Ukraine denies shelling Russian border facility

The Ukrainian military has denied shelling a border facility used by Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), calling Moscow's claim "fake news". "We couldn't stop them producing this fake news, but we always emphasise that we do not shoot at civilian infrastructure, or into some territory in the Rostov region or whatever," Ukrainian military spokesman Pavlo Kovalchuk told reporters.

Air France says cancelling Kyiv flights on Tuesday

French flag-carrier Air France said Monday it was cancelling its flights to and from Kyiv scheduled on Tuesday over security concerns sparked by the Russian troop build-up on Ukraine's border.

Air France, which currently runs return Paris to Kyiv flights on Tuesdays and Sundays, said that the move was a "precautionary measure" and the company would be "regularly re-evaluating the situation".

Moscow says shell destroys border facility

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"On February 21, at 9:50 am (0650 GMT), an unidentified projectile fired from Ukraine completely destroyed a border facility used by the FSB border guard service in the Rostov region around 150 meters from the Russian-Ukrainian border," the security service said in a statement carried by Russian news agencies.

Moscow said Monday that a shell fired from Ukraine had destroyed a border facility used by Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), amid Western concerns about an escalation in fighting in east Ukraine.

Kremlin pours cold water on Ukraine peace summit plan

The Kremlin warned on Monday there are no concrete plans for a summit between the Russian and US leaders, as diplomats scambled to head off the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The idea of a meeting between presidents Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden has been championed by France and cautiously welcomed by Ukraine as a way to avert a catastrophic war in Europe.

But Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: "It's premature to talk about any specific plans for organising any kind of summits" adding that no "concrete plans" had been put in place.

France's President Emmanuel Macron called Putin on Sunday and afterwards his office said that both the Russian and Biden were open to the idea.

The summit would go ahead, however, only "on the condition that Russia does not invade Ukraine."

"There is a diplomatic hope," France's minister for European affairs Clement Beaune told LCI television.

"If there is still a chance to avoid war, to avoid a confrontation and build a political and diplomatic solution, then we need to take it," he said.

But in Washington, a senior US administration official told AFP: "Timing to be determined. Format to be determined. So it's all completely notional."

Image Credit: AP

Visiting Brussels, Ukraine's foreign minister welcomed the French effort.

"We believe that every effort aimed a diplomatic solution is worth trying," Dmytro Kuleba said ahead of a meeting with EU counterparts.

"We hope that the two presidents will walk out from the room with an agreement about Russia withdrawing its forces from Ukraine," he said.

Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said there was no sign of Russian forces withdrawing from the border, and that Moscow-backed rebels continue to shell Ukrainian positions.

"Since the beginning of this day, as of 09:00, 14 attacks have already been recorded , 13 of them from weapons prohibited by the Minsk agreements," he told reporters in Kyiv.

"One of our soldiers was wounded," he said.

Russia annexed the Ukrainian region of Crimea in 2014 and Moscow-backed separatists hold an enclave in the eastern distracts of Lugansk and Donetsk.

In recent weeks, according to US intelligence, Moscow has massed more than 150,000 troops and sailors around Ukraine's borders in Belarus, Russia, Crimea and the Black Sea.

Biden has said that US intelligence believes that Putin has made a decision to invade Ukraine and that commanders are readying units to attack within days.

Russia has long denied this, but state media accuse Kyiv of preparing a murderous assault against the rebel enclave, and has started evacuating civilians from the area.

Kyiv and Washington accuse the Russians of plotting a "false flag" operation to fake Ukrainian atrocities in order to serve as a pretext for an all out assault.

Meanwhile, Ukraine and Russia continue to blame each other for a spike in shellings on the front line separating Kyiv's forces from Moscow-backed separatists.

The bombardments have sent Ukrainians fleeing to cellars and other shelters, while some civilians have been evacuated.

The idea for a summit came moments after Macron held his second marathon call with Putin of the day.

During their first, 105-minute discussion, Putin blamed the increase in violence on the front line on "provocations carried out by the Ukrainian security forces", according to a Kremlin statement.

Putin repeated a call for "the United States and NATO to take Russian demands for security guarantees seriously".

But Macron's office also said the two had agreed on "the need to favour a diplomatic solution to the ongoing crisis and to do everything to achieve one".

The second time the pair spoke, late Sunday evening, it was for an hour, the French presidency said. The announcement of the summit came shortly after.