KIEV, Ukraine (AP) – The Kremlin has said rebels in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday appealed to Russia for military assistance to help fend off Ukrainian “aggression.” warned about.

The Ukrainian president soon rejected Moscow’s claims that his country posed a threat to Russia, and warned that the Russian invasion would cost tens of thousands of lives.

“The people of Ukraine and the government of Ukraine want peace,” said President Volodymyr Zelensky in an emotional address to his people in Russian. “But if we are attacked, if we face an attempt to take away our country, our freedom, our lives and the lives of our children, we will defend ourselves. If you attack us, you will see our faces, not our backs. ”

Zelensky said he had asked to arrange a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin late Wednesday, but the Kremlin did not respond.

Clearly referring to Putin’s move to authorize the deployment of Russian troops to “maintain peace” in eastern Ukraine, Zelensky warned that “this move could mark the beginning of a major war on the European continent.”

“Any provocation, any spark can cause a fire that will destroy everything,” he said.

He denied the statements of Russian propaganda, saying that “you are told that this fire will bring freedom to the people of Ukraine, but the Ukrainian people are free.”

The UN Security Council quickly scheduled an emergency meeting Wednesday night at the request of Ukraine. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba called the separatists’ request “a further escalation of the security situation.”

Concerns about Russia’s imminent attack on a neighbor have risen after Putin on Monday recognized the independence of separatist regions, authorized the deployment of troops in rebel territory to “maintain peace” and received parliamentary approval for the use of military force outside the country. The West responded with sanctions.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said rebel leaders had written to Putin on Wednesday asking him to intervene after the Ukrainian shelling killed civilians and damaged vital infrastructure.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the separatists’ request for help from Russia was an example of a “false flag” operation that the United States and its allies expected Moscow to use as a claim to war.

“Therefore, we will continue to call what we consider operations under a false flag, or efforts to spread misinformation about the actual status of the place,” she said.

The United States and key European allies accused Moscow on Tuesday of crossing the red line in crossing Ukraine’s border into a separatist eastern region known as the Donbass, with some calling it an invasion.

Earlier in the day, Ukrainian lawmakers approved a decree imposing a nationwide state of emergency for 30 days, starting Thursday. This measure allows the authorities to declare curfews and restrictions on movement, block rallies and ban political parties and organizations “in the interests of national security and public order.”

This action reflects the growing concern of the Ukrainian authorities after several weeks of trying to project calm. The Foreign Ministry recommended not to go to Russia and advised all Ukrainians who are there to leave immediately.

Russia evacuated its embassy in Kyiv on Wednesday as hopes of a diplomatic exit from a new, potentially devastating war in Europe faded.

“We have long refrained from imposing a state of emergency … but today the situation has become more complicated,” – said the chairman of the National Security and Defense Council Alexei Danilov, emphasizing that the main threat is Moscow’s efforts to destabilize Ukraine.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Russian forces with more than 150,000 troops stationed along Ukraine’s borders were on high alert. “They’re ready to go right now,” Kirby said.

The latest images published by the satellite imagery company Maxar show that Russian troops and military equipment are within 10 miles of the Ukrainian border and less than 50 miles from Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv.

In response to Russia’s actions, President Joe Biden has authorized sanctions against the company that built the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, and against the company’s CEO.

“Today I ordered my administration to impose sanctions against Nord Stream 2 AG and its corporate officials,” Biden said in a statement. “As I have made it clear, we will not hesitate to take further steps if Russia continues to escalate.”

Germany said Tuesday it was suspending the project indefinitely after Biden accused Putin of launching “the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine” by sending troops into separatist regions. The pipeline is complete but not yet operational.

Putin said on Tuesday that he had not yet sent Russian troops to rebel regions against Western claims, and Donetsk rebel leader Denis Pushylin insisted on Wednesday that there were no Russian troops in the region, even though a local council deputy had said the day before. that they moved in

Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine Mikhail Fedorov said that on Wednesday a wave of attacks with denial of service was aimed at official websites and some banks. The attackers knocked out the websites of the parliament, the cabinet and the foreign ministry and caused disruptions or delays on the websites of the Ministry of Defense and Interior, which control the police.

The threat of war has already destroyed Ukraine’s economy and caused mass casualties, energy shortages across Europe and global economic chaos.

Even as the conflict took a new, dangerous turn, leaders warned it could still get worse. Putin has not yet released a force of 150,000 troops assembled from three sides of Ukraine, while Biden has refrained from even tougher sanctions that could cause economic turmoil for Russia, but said they will move forward if there is further aggression.

In other events, Kiev recalled its ambassador to Russia and considered severing all diplomatic ties with Moscow; dozens of countries have further pushed Russian oligarchs and banks out of international markets; The United States has deployed additional troops to NATO’s eastern flank, which borders Russia; and the top U.S. diplomat canceled a meeting with his Russian counterpart.

European Union sanctions against Russia have come into force against several companies along with 351 Russian lawmakers who voted in favor of the initiative, calling on Putin to recognize the rebel regions, as well as 27 high-ranking government officials, business leaders and senior military officials.

Russia’s foreign ministry has waived the sanctions, saying “Russia has proven that with all the costs of sanctions, it can minimize the damage.”

Violence has intensified again in eastern Ukraine. One Ukrainian serviceman was killed and six others were injured in the shelling of the rebels, the Ukrainian military said. Separatist officials reported several explosions on their territory at night, killing three civilians.

Faced with a barrage of criticism at the 193-member United Nations General Assembly, Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, warned Ukraine that Russia would monitor the ceasefire in the east, stressing that “no one intends to go softly, softly. any violators. “

“Kiev’s” new military adventure “can be very costly for the whole of Ukraine,” he warned ominously.

After weeks of rising tensions, Putin’s moves have risen sharply this week. He recognized the independence of these separatist regions, and the move, he said, extended even to most of the territories now under Ukrainian rule, and parliament gave him the authority to use military force outside the country.

Putin has identified three conditions that he says could end the confrontation, calling on Kyiv to recognize Russia’s sovereignty over Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014, renounce its NATO bid and partially demilitarize. Ukraine has long refused such requirements.


Litvinova reported from Moscow. Angela Charlton in Paris; Frank Jordans in Berlin; Lorne Cook in Brussels, Vladimir Isachenko in Moscow, Frank Bayak in Boston, Robert Burns, Matthew Lee, Aamer Madhani, Eric Tucker, Ellen Nickmaier, Zick Miller, Chris Megerian and Darlene Superville in Washington.


Follow the coverage of the Ukrainian crisis in the AP at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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