Live: Invading Ukraine was Putin’s ‘plan all along’, Washington says

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Military trucks move down a street outside Donetsk, the territory controlled by pro-Russian militants, eastern Ukraine, Feb. 22, 2022.


An invasion of Ukraine was Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plan “all along”, the US top diplomat said, calling off a scheduled meeting with his Russian counterpart.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters on Tuesday that Putin’s “plan all along has been to invade Ukraine, to control Ukraine and its people, to destroy Ukraine’s democracy.”

He also announced that a meeting with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, scheduled on 24 February has been cancelled, arguing Moscow is not serious about diplomacy.

“It does not make sense to go forward with that meeting at this time. I consulted with our allies and partners, all agreed,” he said.

It comes after the US, UK, and EU unveiled sanctions against Russian individuals and entities on Tuesday in response to Putin’s recognition of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic — two separatist-held areas in eastern Ukraine — and his announcement that troops would be sent in on “peacekeeping duties.”

Follow all of Wednesday’s key developments here


The key points to know

    The UK, EU and US announced a raft of sanctions against economic, political, military, business and media sectors;They all stressed this is just the beginning and more sanctions would be imposed if Russia invades further;President Biden says the US will redeploy some US troops in the region;Germany is halting certification of Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, a vital energy connection for Russia.The EU says it has prepared contingency plans in case of an exodus of refugees from Ukraine.


Kyiv urges Ukrainians in Russia to ‘leave immediately’

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry also recommended on Wednesday morning that “Ukrainian citizens refrain from making any trips to the Russian Federation” and that those already in Russia “leave its territory immediately”.It said that “the intensification of Russian aggression against Ukraine” may lead to “a significant limitation of consular assistance” in Russia.09:32

Ukraine calls on West to hit Russia ‘more’ and ‘hard’

Foreign Ministry Dmytro Kuleba reiterated his demand that the West imposes more sanctions on Russia on Wednesday morning.He welcomed the sanctions announced by allies on Tuesday as “first decisive steps” but said that “now the pressure needs to step up and stop Putin.”Hit his economy and cronies. Hit more. Hit hard. Hit now,” he said.


EU must have no doubt who its allies are: French Minister

Clément Beaune, France’s European Affairs minister, defended western sanctions against Russia on France INter radio on Wednesday.”What has happened must not be minimised. What has happened is already very serious. You have heard the speeches of Vladimir Putin. Beyond the gestures of recognition of the independence of the two republics, there was a further attack on the sovereignty of Ukraine,” he said.”It is a very hard speech, very brutal towards the West and I think that in this case, as we can see in the French debate, we should not have any doubt about where our alliances are and where our interests lie. For the moment that’s what we’re dealing with, sending a strong signal and being united between the 30 or 35 members of the EU, the Atlantic alliance and our closest partners,” he added. France is in the midst of a presidential campaign and some candidates, far-right Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour and far-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon, have issued ambiguous statements on the events unfolding in Ukraine. 08:27

UN chief ‘concerned about perversion’ of peacekeeping concept

Antonio Guterres said on Twitter on Wednesday morning that he is “concerned about the perversion of the concept of peacekeeping.””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,” he added. The UN Secretary-General has issued a call for “an immediate ceasefire” and de-escalation.


How the US could cut off Russia from the tech world

Among the sanctions being mulled by the US are requirements for companies seeking to ship an expanded list of goods to Russia obtain licenses from the United States, which could then be denied.”It’s extraordinarily novel and has the potential for being far more significant than controls just on exports of these items from the United States,” said Washington lawyer Kevin Wolf, a former official at the US Department of Commerce.
Most chips are made with American equipment, giving the US leverage to control the flow of electronics to Russia.READ MORE HERE.07:48

Russia ‘always open to direct and honest dialogue’: Putin

The Russian president said in a televised address on Wednesday to mark the “Day of the Defender of the Fatherland” that “our country is always open to direct and honest dialogue to find diplomatic solutions to the most complex problems.””However, the interests and security of our citizens are non-negotiable for us,” he went on, reiterating his call for NATO to guarantee Ukraine will never be able to become a member. He also cited “the loosening of the arms control system” and “NATO’s military activities” as threats to Russia and said that the country’s concerns remained “unanswered”.07:34

Why Russian banks are being targeted

The EU, UK, US and now Australia have all imposed sanctions on several Russian banks. European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said on Tuesday evening that the banks targeted “finance the Russian military apparatus and contribute to the destabilisation of Ukraine.”Chief among them are Vnesheconombank (VEB) and Promsvyazbank Public Joint Stock Company (PSB).VEB is crucial to Russia’s ability to raise funds, and PSB is critical to Russia’s defense sector. The two hold more than $80 billion (€70.6 billion) in assets combined. They will now be cut off from carrying out transactions in the US and European banking systems.07:09

Russian ambassador to US warns sanctions will hit Americans

Anatoliy Antonov said in comments relayed by the embassy’s Facebook page that “there is no doubt that the sanctions introduced against us will hit global financial and energy markets.””The United States will not be left out, with its ordinary citizens feeling the consequences of the price increase in full,” he added.He also argued that sanctions against Russia won’t “solve a thing.””It is hard to imagine that there is a person in Washington who expects Russia to revise its foreign policy under a threat of restrictions. I don’t remember a single day when our country lived without any restrictions from the Western world. We have learned to work in such conditions,” he said. 06:52

Australia announces sanctions against Russia

Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters on Wednesday that the country’s first tranche of financial sanctions and travel bans will target eight members of Russia’s Security Council.Five Russian banks have also been targeted.”The sanctions will impose strong economic sanctions in the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, targeting the following sectors: transport, energy, telecommunications, oil, gas, and mineral reserves,” he saidHe also said he has instructed the Minister for Immigration to “accelerate the conclusion of Ukrainian visa applications to Australia” and that Canberra “will work very closely, especially with Poland, but other European partners to deal with the likelihood of displaced persons coming into their countries.”


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