Ukraine urges citizens to leave Russia

KYIV, UKRAINE – Europe braced for deeper confrontation on Wednesday and Ukraine urged its citizens to leave Russia after tensions escalated dramatically when the Russian leader was authorized to use military force outside outside its own country and the West responded with a series of sanctions.

Hopes for a diplomatic path out of a new, potentially devastating war were in smoke as the United States and key European allies accused Moscow on Tuesday of crossing a red line in the Middle East. spilling across Ukraine’s border into breakaway regions – with some calling it an invasion.

The top US diplomat canceled a meeting with his Russian counterpart; Kyiv recalled its ambassador and deemed it severed all diplomatic relations with Moscow; dozens of countries continue to squeeze Russian financiers and banks out of the international market; Germany halts a lucrative pipeline deal; and the US deployed additional troops to the eastern flank of NATO bordering Russia.

After weeks of trying to stay calm, Ukrainian authorities signaled growing concern on Wednesday. The State Department advised against traveling to Russia and advised anyone there to leave immediately, saying Moscow’s “aggression” could lead to a significant reduction in consular services.

The head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council has called for a nationwide state of emergency – subject to parliamentary approval. Oleksiy Danilov said the regional authorities will decide which measures to take, but they could include additional protections for public transport, traffic restrictions, as well as additional checks on vehicles and assets Whether.

Now, the threat of war has weakened Ukraine’s economy and raised the specter of massive casualties, energy shortages across Europe, and global economic chaos.

Even as the conflict turns to a new and dangerous turn, leaders warn it could still get worse. Russian President Vladimir Putin has yet to deploy a 150,000-strong force focused on three sides of Ukraine, while US President Joe Biden rejects even tougher sanctions that could cause economic instability for Ukraine. Russia but said it would continue if there was further aggression. . Sanctions are key because the West has ruled out attacking Russia militarily.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urged Western leaders not to wait.

“We urge our partners to impose more sanctions on Russia now,” he wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. “Now the pressure needs to increase to stop Putin. Hit the economy and his allies. Hit more. Hit hard. Hit now.”

Responding defiantly to the steps taken, Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov countered that “sanctions cannot solve the problem” in a statement on Facebook. “It is hard to imagine that there is a person in Washington who would expect Russia to revise its foreign policy under the threat of restrictions.”

In eastern Ukraine, where an eight-year conflict between Russian-backed rebels and Ukrainian forces has left nearly 14,000 people dead, violence has spiked again. The Ukrainian military said that one Ukrainian soldier was killed and six others injured after being shelled by rebels. Separatist officials reported several explosions in their territory during the night and three civilians were killed.

Since last Friday, when separatist leaders in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions announced mass evacuations into Russia, more than 96,000 residents of the breakaway regions have crossed the Russian border.

After weeks of mounting tensions, this week Putin took a series of steps to significantly raise the stakes. First, he recognized the independence of the breakaway regions. He later said that recognition extended to large parts of the territory currently held by Ukrainian forces, including the large port of Mariupol on the Sea of ​​Azov.

In the end, he requested and obtained permission to use military force outside the country – effectively formalizing Russia’s military deployment to rebel areas.

However, Putin suggested that there was a way out of the crisis, offering three conditions: He called on Kyiv to recognize Russia’s sovereignty over Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014, abandon efforts to join NATO and partially demilitarize.

But it is not clear whether there is really room for diplomacy as the first two requests were previously rejected by Ukraine and the West for being unable to initiate.

The Russian leader remained ambiguous when asked if he would send any Russian troops into Ukraine and how far they could go. “I have not said that the army will go there right now,” Putin replied, adding that “it is impossible to predict a specific form of action – it will depend on a particular situation when it takes shape.” in fact.”


Litvinova reported from Moscow, and Madhani and Tucker from Washington. Jim Heintz and Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow; Jill Lawless in London; Lorne Cook in Brussels; Barry Hatton in Lisbon, Portugal; Geir Moulson and Frank Jordans in Berlin; Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations; Ellen Knickmeyer, Robert Burns, Matthew Lee, Zeke Miller, Chris Megerian and Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this report.

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