President Putin’s video message arrived on a public holiday marking Defend the Fatherland Day
Moscow — With reports coming in of more Russian troops moving closer to Ukraine’s borders; Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted Russia’s security and interests are not negotiable.
His video address came within hours of US President Joe Biden’s warning of “the beginning of a Russian invasion.”
He said that Russia was always “open for direct and honest dialogue,” but he had complete confidence in Russian the military.
President Biden said, “We’ve cut off Russia’s government from Western financing,” Mr. Bidend, as the West has announced sanctions on Russian interests.
The sanctions came after the Russian upper house of parliament authorized troops into two parts of eastern Ukraine controlled by Russian-backed separatists.
Mr. Putin earlier declared that Russia had recognized the independent states of Luhansk and Donetsk and ordered Russian troops into the areas, tearing up a peace accord with Ukraine.
President Biden said, “to put it simply, Russia just announced that it is carving out a big chunk of Ukraine.”
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken canceled planned meetings with Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, despite President Putin’s insistence that he was still open to diplomacy.
It is not yet clear if any Russian troops have crossed the border into Ukraine. However, US satellite imagery has highlighted several new troop and equipment deployments in western Russia and more than 100 vehicles at an airfield in Belarus near Ukraine’s border.
Mr. Biden said he was announcing an initial tranche of measures, targeting high-ranking Russia’s “elites”; and its foreign debt, to prevent it from raising state financing from Western financial institutions.
On Tuesday, the European Union and the UK also announced a wave of sanctions against Russian banks and individuals.
European Commission Vice President Vera Jourova said it was a mistake to exclude the Russian leader. “Vladimir Putin should be first on the list,” she told Czech daily Hospodarske Noviny.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the UK would use “every lever at our disposal” to stop Russia’s threats against Ukraine. .
Responding to criticism from some MPs that the UK government had not gone far enough, Ms. Truss wrote in The Times that G7 allies had agreed on further sanctions and “nothing is off the table.”
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky earlier said he would consider cutting off diplomatic ties with Russia altogether over the crisis; and was calling up military reserve members for training – but there was “no need” for a total military mobilization.
Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine have seized large swathes of territory in 2014.