Live: Ukraine defence council backs nationwide state of emergency

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A Ukraine army soldier walks in the town of Schastia, near the eastern Ukraine city of Luhansk, on February 22, 2022

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Ukraine’s defence council on Wednesday recommended that a state of emergency be implemented nationwide.

The measure needs to be approved by the parliament and would not affect the eastern regions of Donestk and Luhansk where a military operation is under way, the office of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

It comes after the country Armed Forces announced that reservists are being conscripted for a one-year military service. It is unclear yet how many reservists will be drafted.

The government in Kyiv also called on the West on Wednesday to impose further sanctions on Russia, urging allies to “hit more. Hit hard. Hit now.” They have also urged their nationals in Russia to “leave immediately”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin repeated meanwhile that Moscow remains “open to direct and honest dialogue to find diplomatic solutions to the most complex problems.”

Follow all of Wednesday’s key developments here

06:29

The key points to know

    Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council, chaired by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, recommended declaring a state of emergency. Parliament now needs to approve it;Kyiv has also announced it is conscripting reservists and urged its nationals in Russia to “leave immediately”;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. The EU is to announce further sanctions on Wednesday;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.

15:29

Erdogan warns Putin over Ukrainian ‘territorial integrity’

The Turksh president has warned Vladimir Putin that his country “will not recognise any measure affecting the territorial integrity of Ukraine”.Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his Russian counterpart in a phone conversation that “a military conflict will bring nothing to anybody”, the Turkish president’s office added.It did not say how long the conversation lasted.14:42

Poland and Lithuania ‘support’ EU candidate status

“Given the significant progress in the implementation of the Association Agreement and internal reforms, as well as the current security challenges, Ukraine deserves EU candidate status and the Republic of Lithuania and the Republic of Poland will support Ukraine in achieving this goal,” Nauseda, Polish President Andrzej Duda and Zelenskyy emphasised in a joint statement.

14:33

Ukraine’s European perspective must be ‘very clear’: Lithuania President

Gitanas Nausėda told reporters during a joint press conference in Kyiv with his Ukrainian and Polish counterparts that “in the light of Russia’s aggression, Ukraine will not be left alone.””Only a strong response can stop further escalation of the conflict,” he said, adding that “NATO must also send in a clear signal that there is no change to the open door policy.””The European perspective on Ukraine must also be very clear and well defined,” he said.”Ukrainians have showed tremendous efforts in reforming the country,” he said. “Ukrainians prove that there are very serious about their European aspirations.”14:03

Russian diplomatic staff being evacuated from Ukraine

The spokesman for Russia’s embassy in Kyiv, Denis Golenko, confirmed to AFP that the evacuation is under way.

The Russian flag was no longer flying on the roof of the Russian representation in the Ukrainian capital and several people were coming out with suitcases.

13:44

Russia regrets German decision on Nord Stream 2: ambassador

“We regret that Germany is going to suspend the certification of Nord Stream 2 because before that, Germany also stated that the gas pipeline is a commercial, purely economic project and has nothing to do with politics,” the Russian ambassador to Germany, Sergei Nechaev, said on Twitter.He blamed the decision on “active pressure of overseas colleagues”.”Nord Stream 2 is necessary first and foremost for Europe’s energy security; the German economy and population, and Europe,” he added.”We hope that this announcement is a temporary measure and that prudence and pragmatism will eventually prevail,” he concluded. 13:22

EU ambassadors deciding on new sanctions

Ambassadors from member states are currently meeting to discuss additional sanctions, the French presidency of the EU has announced.The Council is then expected to approve them so they can be published in the Official Journal later in the day.”Entry into force of the sanctions upon their publication,” the French presidency said.

13:05

UK to provide more military support to Ukraine

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said at PMQs that the UK would soon provide a further package of military support to Ukraine including defensive weapons in addition to non-lethal aid.

Opposition leader Keir Starmer criticised the UK government’s sanctions on Russia, asking when tougher sanctions would be imposed.

Johnson said there is more to come and “we will be stopping Russia from raising sovereign debt”.

He added there was “still hope” that Putin would “see sense”.12:55

Germany will be able to go without Russian natural gas, economy and climate minister says

Germany will be able to go without Russian natural gas if necessary, the country’s minister of economy and climate said.

“Yes, it can,” confirmed Robert Habeck on German public radio in response to a question about going without Russian gas, on which it is heavily dependent.

It came a day after German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced they would suspend the certification of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline after Moscow recognised the self-proclaimed pro-Russian republics in eastern Ukraine.

If Berlin were to give up Russian gas completely one day, this would first result in “a big gap” to be filled in the energy market, with the consequence of “first driving up the price” of gas.

But in the end, the gas purchased from Gazprom could be “compensated” by other suppliers and energy sources, Habeck said.

12:31

This map shows the separatist-held areas of eastern Ukraine

For those of you wanting to understand the current crisis in Ukraine better, this handy map shows the contested areas and the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. 

However, 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.”

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