President Vladimir Putin has stressed that Russia’s interests and security are not negotiable, amid reports of numerous Russian troops approaching the Ukrainian border.
Mr. Putin gave a video conference, hours after US President Joe Biden warned of “the start of the Russian invasion”.
Russia has always had “open and honest dialogue,” Mr. Putin said but had full confidence in the military.
The West has announced a series of sanctions on Russia’s interests.
“We have cut off the Russian government in funding Western funding,” Mr. Biden said after the Russian Parliament authorized the president to send troops to two parts of eastern Ukraine controlled by Russian-backed separatists.
Mr. Putin announced on Monday night that Russia had recognized the independence of the so-called Republicans Luhansk and Donetsk, violating the peace agreement with Ukraine.
Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry has urged all its citizens to leave Russia, warning that “Russian intensified violence against Ukraine” could reduce diplomatic assistance. Kyiv troops also announced that they would immediately summon all strikers between the ages of 18 and 60, both official and private, for a period of one year. Pope Francis said the threat of war in Ukraine had caused “great pain in my heart”.
President Putin’s claim that the military would go “to maintain peace” was ridiculed as nonsense by Western nations. Dismissing his false accusation of genocide in eastern Ukraine, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said he was concerned about “perversion of the concept of peacekeeping”.
Mr. Biden said, “to put it simply, Russia has recently announced that it is drawing a large part of Ukraine”.
Despite Mr. Putin’s insistence that he still open negotiations, the French Foreign Minister and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken both canceled scheduled meetings with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
It is not yet clear whether Russian troops have crossed the border into Ukraine. However, US satellite imagery highlighted the deployment of new troops and equipment to western Russia, as well as more than 100 vehicles at the Belarus airport near the Ukrainian border.
Mr. Biden said he was announcing the first phase of measures, aimed at Russia’s “elite” people and foreign debt, to prevent increased funding for Western financial institutions.
The European Union and the UK also announced a wave of sanctions against Russian banks and individuals on Tuesday:
Germany has also launched a major Russian joint venture project, the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, despite Europe’s reliance on Russia’s gas supply and the fact that the € 10bn (£ 8.3bn) project is ready to unlock cables.
All 27 EU member states have agreed on a number of measures against Russia, targeting all 351 members of Russia’s lower house voting to recognize the two rebel states of Ukraine as independent states. The EU response also directs 27 individuals and organizations involved in the decision.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that five banks have frozen their assets in Britain, and three billion Russians will be hit by a UK travel ban. Canada, Japan, and Australia later confirmed similar measures
Ukraine’s parliament voted Wednesday to impose sanctions on 351 Russians.
European Commission Deputy President Vera Jourova said it was a mistake to expel the Russian leader. “Vladimir Putin should be first on the list,” he told Czech daily Hospodarske Noviny.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the UK would use “all the weapons we have” to stop Russian threats against Ukraine. Responding to criticism from some members of Parliament that the UK government had not gone far enough Ms. Truss wrote in The Times newspaper that the G7 allies had consistently agreed to sanctions and “nothing on the table”.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said he will consider cutting off relations with Russia altogether because of the crisis.
Russian-backed insurgents in eastern Ukraine have seized a number of territories since the escalating tensions in 2014. An estimated 14,000 people – including most people – have died.
Rebel leaders demanded last week that women, children, and the elderly be deported to Russia, citing baseless allegations of a possible Ukrainian invasion. Moscow officials said on Wednesday that 96,000 people had arrived so far from the territory of Ukraine.