Street vendors sell vegetables and other local produce on the sidewalk outside Lukyanivska Metro station in Kyiv, Ukraine, on February 22, 2022. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Ukraine to impose state of emergency  

The state of emergency will last for 30 days and can be extended for another 30 days, Oleksiy Danilov told a briefing. Parliament must now vote to enact the decision.

Introducing a state of emergency gives powers to the authorities, who can choose which ones to implement. These could include restrictions on transport, extra protection for critical infrastructure and a ban on strikes.

Regional authorities can make decisions on whether to introduce curfews and other measures, Danilov said. "These are preventive measures to keep calm in the country, so that our economy and our country can work," Danilov said.

"Depending on the threats that may arise in certain territories, there will be either a more strengthened or more weakened state of emergency. We are talking about border areas where we have a border with the Russian Federation, with Belarus," he said.

The state border guards service said new measures had been introduced regarding the stay of foreigners near the border zone, the use of radios, flights of drones and the filming and photographing of certain people and buildings.

The state of emergency applies to all of Ukraine except the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, where it has been in place since 2014.

Russian-backed fighters have controlled parts of Donetsk and Luhansk since 2014. Russia recognised them as independent states and approved use of its troops abroad this week.

Pope Francis urges sides to take a step back

Pope Francis is urging all sides in the Russia-Ukraine dispute to examine their consciences before God and pull back from threats of war.

In an appeal at the end of his weekly general audience on Wednesday, Francis said he was pained and alarmed by developments in Ukraine, which he said “discredit international law.”

He didn’t single out Russia’s massing of troops at Ukraine’s borders or its recognition of two rebel-held areas of eastern Ukraine. But he noted: ``Once again, the peace of everyone is threatened by vested interests.’’

The Vatican is toeing a fraught diplomatic and ecumenical line, given its efforts to reach out to the Russian Orthodox Church and convene a second meeting between Francis and its leader, Patriarch Kirill.

Francis called for believers and non-believers alike to mark March 2, Ash Wednesday in the Catholic calendar, as a day of fasting and prayer.

Zelenskiy calls up military reservists

Ukraine on Wednesday has started conscripting reservists aged 18-60 following a decree by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the armed forces said in a statement. The maximum service period is one year.

Zelenskiy on Tuesday said he was introducing the conscription of reservists but ruled out a general mobilisation after Russia announced it was moving troops into eastern Ukraine.

The law approved last November allows calling reservists into the army without declaring mobilization during “special periods.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday the Minsk Agreement on the Ukrainian settlement ceased to exist when Russia recognized Ukraine’s breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states.

Japan PM Fumio Kishida announces sanctions

Japan is imposing sanctions on Russia over its actions in Ukraine, including prohibiting the issuance of Russian bonds in Japan and freezing the assets of certain Russian individuals, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Wednesday.

Western nations on Tuesday imposed new sanctions on Russian banks and elites after Moscow ordered troops into separatist regions of eastern Ukraine.

Kishida said Russia's actions had violated Ukraine's sovereignty and called on Russia to return to diplomatic discussions. Japan was prepared to take additional steps should the situation worsen, he said.

He said he did not see a significant impact on energy supplies from the current situation in the short term and that he would consider all measures to limit the impact on households and companies should oil prices rise further.

Washington targets Russian debt in sanctions sweep

The US government broadened restrictions on trading of Russian government debt on Tuesday in a bid to punish Moscow for ratcheting up its conflict with Ukraine, a move that analysts said might have a moderate impact near-term but could be a step toward harsher measures.

The US Treasury said it was prohibiting participation in the secondary market for bonds issued after March 1.

The increased restrictions on dealings in Russia’s sovereign debt are aimed at “further cutting Russia off from sources of revenue to fund its government or President Putin’s priorities, including his further invasion into Ukraine,” it said in a statement.

The new restrictions followed Russia ordering troops into separatist regions of eastern Ukraine. Western countries have threatened to go further if Moscow launches an all-out invasion of its neighbor.

“The message from the US is clear, we don’t want you to hold Russian assets,” said Tim Ash, senior EM sovereign strategist at BlueBay Asset Management. “‘Get out now’ is the clear-cut message.”

Images show new deployment of military vehicles in Belarus

Satellite images show a new deployment of more than 100 military vehicles and dozens of troop tents in southern Belarus near the Ukraine border, a private US company said on Tuesday.

220223 Maxar
This Maxar satellite image taken and released on February 22, 2022 shows a close-up of assembled vehicles, part of a new deployment consisting of more than 100 vehicles and dozens of troop tents/shelters, at a small airfield known as the V.D. Bolshoy Bokov aerodrome near Mozyr, southern Belarus, north of the border with Ukraine. Image Credit: AFP

The images also showed a new field hospital and heavy equipment transporters in western Russia close to the border with Ukraine, according to Maxar Technologies.

UN chief concerned by 'perversion' of peacekeeping

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday he was "concerned about the perversion of the concept of peacekeeping" after Moscow ordered Russian troops into eastern Ukraine to "keep the peace."

"When troops of one country enter the territory of another country without its consent, they are not impartial peacekeepers. They are not peacekeepers at all," Guterres told reporters.

The United States has dismissed Russia's justification to deploy troops as "peacekeepers" as "nonsense."

Blinken hits out at Putin's 'disturbing' speech

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday that Russian leader Vladimir Putin's speech recognizing two separatist regions in Ukraine and comments on Tuesday were "deeply disturbing" and made clear that Putin views Ukraine as "subordinate."

The United States and its allies would continue to escalate sanctions if Russia further escalates its aggression toward Ukraine, Blinken told reporters after a meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Washington.

Canada announces first round of economic sanctions

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday announced a first round of economic sanctions on Russia a day after Moscow recognised the separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent.

The United States, the European Union, Germany and Britain also announced ways they will hit Russia financially as they fear a further incursion is to come, a move Moscow has consistently denied for months.

Biden says US imposing first wave of sanctions

President Joe Biden said the US will impose a first tranche of sanctions on Russia and shifting American forces already based in Europe. Biden's announcement followed earlier sanctions after the European Union and the U.K. set out an initial set of limited penalties targeting Moscow.

The measures follow a dramatic escalation of tensions triggered by President Vladimir Putin's recognition of two self-proclaimed republics in eastern Ukraine, a move that effectively killed eight years of diplomacy. Russia's upper house on Tuesday gave the green light to Putin to deploy troops to the separatist-held regions.

The rapid series of events - including Germany's halting of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project - caps weeks of brinkmanship, with the Kremlin insisting it has no plans for a full-scale invasion. The US issued a series of warnings, citing intelligence, that Russia could invade, incite an event as a pretext to take military action, or launch cyberattacks.

EU to impose further sanctions on Russia in event of invasion

Germany and the European Union are in a position to decide on further sanctions against Russia if it invades Ukraine, which cannot be ruled out, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Tuesday.

Scholz said Russia's recognition of the two regions of Luhansk and Donetsk was not compatible with international law and endangered the sovereignty of Ukraine.

"We cannot accept this," Scholz was quoted as saying by broadcaster RTL, adding that respecting borders was important for peace in Europe.

"If everyone in Europe starts leafing through history books where borders used to be, then we have a very unsettling time ahead of us," Scholz added.

Putin gets permission to use force

Russia’s upper house of parliament has given President Vladimir Putin permission to use military force outside the country.

That could presage a broader attack on Ukraine after the US said an invasion was already underway there.

The White House on Tuesday began referring to Russian troop deployments in eastern Ukraine as an “invasion” after initially hesitating to use the term — a red line that President Joe Biden has said would result in the US levying severe sanctions against Moscow.

“We think this is, yes, the beginning of an invasion, Russia’s latest invasion into Ukraine,’’ said Jon Finer, principal deputy national security adviser. “An invasion is an invasion and that is what is underway.’’

The White House decided to begin referring to Russia’s actions as an “invasion’’ because of the situation on the ground, according to a U.S. official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

UK unveils sanctions 

Britain on Tuesday slapped sanctions on five Russian banks and three billionaires, in what Prime Minister Boris Johnson called “the first barrage” of measures in response to the Kremlin’s actions in Ukraine.

Addressing the UK parliament hours after Russia ordered troops into two Moscow-backed Ukrainian rebel regions, Johnson described it as “a renewed invasion” of its western neighbour and “pretext for a full-scale offensive”.

“The UK and our allies will begin to impose the sanctions on Russia that we have already prepared... to sanction Russian individuals and entities of strategic importance to the Kremlin,” he told MPs.

The British leader said further sanctions were “at readiness to be deployed” if the Kremlin showed further aggression in what he predicted would be “a protracted crisis”.

The five banks targeted — Rossiya, IS Bank, General Bank, Promsvyazbank and the Black Sea Bank — and three people sanctioned will see any UK assets frozen

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.

“We cannot tell what will happen in the days ahead,” Johnson added in the House of Commons, amid cross-party condemnation of Moscow’s actions.

“But... we should steel ourselves for a protracted crisis.”

Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline halted

Germany has taken steps to halt the process of certifying the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Tuesday, as the West started taking punitive measures against Moscow over the Ukraine crisis.

Scholz told reporters in Berlin that his government was taking the measure in response to Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.

The decision is a significant move for the German government, which had long resisted pulling the plug on the project despite pressure from the United States and some European countries to do so. Washington has for years argued that building another pipeline bringing natural gas from Russia to Germany increases Europe’s reliance on Russian energy supplies.

Scholz said that the government had decided to “reassess’’ the certification of the pipeline, which hasn’t begun operating yet, in light of the latest developments.

“That will certainly take time, if I may say so,’’ he said.

Germany meets about a quarter of its energy needs with natural gas, a share that will increase in the coming years as the country switches off its last three nuclear power plants and phases out the use of coal. About half of the natural gas used in Germany comes from Russia.

UN relocates non-essential staff, families in Ukraine

Geneva: The United Nations said Tuesday it was relocating some of its non-essential staff and their family members in Ukraine, amid growing fears of an all-out Russian invasion.

"We are committed to stay and to continue delivering in Ukraine, especially in eastern Ukraine," UN spokeswoman Alessandra Vellucci told reporters in Geneva.

"We continue to be fully operational."

She acknowledged though that "as a result of the evolving situation on the ground, we have allowed for temporary relocation of some non-essential staff and some dependents."

Syria supports Putin's recognition of Ukraine breakaway regions

Syria supports the decision of its ally Russia to recognise two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine, Syrian state TV quoted the Syrian foreign minister as saying on Tuesday.

"Syria supports President Vladimir Putin's decision to recognise the republics of Luhansk and Donetsk," the state TV quoted Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad as saying during an event in Moscow.

"What the West is doing against Russia is similar to what it did against Syria during the terrorist war," said Mekdad.

Syria has been a staunch ally of Moscow since Russia launched a military campaign in Syria in 2015 that helped to turn the tide in a civil war in favour of President Bashar al-Assad.

EU may ban trade in Russian state bonds and sanction hundreds of people

Brussels: The European Union is discussing banning trade in Russian state bonds and sanctioning hundreds of people, an EU official said on Tuesday, after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine.

Separately, a senior EU diplomat told Reuters EU ambassadors were "unanimously in favour" of sanctions on Russia. The envoys will meet again later today to consider the details and political endorsement, the diplomat said.

Russia preparing ‘further military aggression'

KYIV: Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky warned on Tuesday that Russia’s recognition of his country’s two breakaway regions was a precursor for a further military assault.

“We believe that with this decision, Russia is creating the legal basis for further military aggression against Ukraine, thus violating all possible international obligations,” Zelensky said.

This handout picture taken and released on February 22, 2022 by Ukrainian Presidential press-service shows the President Volodymyr Zelensky looking on during his TV speech in Kyiv. - Ukraine leader says 'we are not afraid' after Russia recognises rebels. President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops into two Moscow-backed rebel regions of Ukraine on February 21, 2022, prompting a furious response from the West with the United States denouncing the move at the UN Security Council as a "pretext for war". (Photo by UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS-SERVICE - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS Image Credit: AFP

Zelenskiy said at a briefing on Tuesday Ukraine may break off diplomatic relations with Russia.

Speaking alongside his Estonian counterpart, Zelenskiy said he was weighing a request from his foreign ministry to break off ties. He also urged Ukraine’s allies not to wait for a further escalation to impose sanctions, which should include shutting down the Russian-led Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

Zelenskiy played down the prospect of a large scale conflict with Russia but said he was prepared to introduce martial law if that happened.