A long-feared Russian invasion of Ukraine appears to be imminent, with Russian President Vladimir Putin ordering forces into separatist regions of eastern Ukraine.
Putin’s directive came hours after he recognised the independence of two rebel-held areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk in Ukraine. Putin also signed mutual aid agreements with the leaders of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic and Donetsk People's Republic.
Underscoring the urgency, the UN Security Council set a rare night-time emergency meeting on Monday at the request of Ukraine, the US, and other countries.
Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, sought to project calm, telling the country: “We are not afraid of anyone or anything. We don’t owe anyone anything. And we won’t give anything to anyone.”
Images captured by Maxar show Russian troops being deployed 15 kilometres away from the Russia-Ukraine border
The US accused Russia of planning to assassinate certain people in Ukraine after it invades the country
Biden said he would consider having direct talks with Putin if Moscow did not attack Kyiv
Russia responded by saying that it's 'premature' to hope for direct talks unless absolutely necessary
Putin has blamed NATO for "pumping modern weapons and ammunition" into Ukraine
Russia has warned against Ukraine joining NATO, a move it feels brings Western Europe closer to the Russian borders
Both NATO and Ukraine have rejected this demand
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Escalation of Tension a Matter of Deep Concern: India at UNSC Meet
India at the meeting said that it has been closely following the evolving developments relating to Ukraine and the related announcement by Russia.
"The escalation of tension along the border of Ukraine with the Russian Federation is a matter of deep concern," India said, adding that these developments have the potential to undermine peace and security of the region.
Attack on Ukraine's Status as UN Member State: US at UNSC Meet
Speaking at the UNSC meeting, the US said, "Russia's clear attack on Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty is unprovoked. It is an attack on Ukraine's status as a UN member state. It violates basic principles of international law."
UN Holds Emergency Security Council Meeting
The UN is holding an emergency Security Council meeting on the Ukraine crisis on Tuesday.
Diplomats told AFP that Russia, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the Council, eventually accepted US demands it be an open meeting.
US Sends Diplomats in Ukraine to Poland
The US said it is sending all of its diplomats in Ukraine to Poland out of security fears, after Russia ordered troops into two rebel regions of Ukraine.
"For security reasons, Department of State personnel currently in Lviv will spend the night in Poland" said Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.