Western leaders stated Russia was following a “playbook of deception” to justify an invasion of Ukraine, amid intensifying clashes within the east of the nation between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists.
Talking on the Munich Safety Convention, US vice-president Kamala Harris stated Moscow was creating false pretexts for an assault whereas amassing troops and firepower in plain sight.
“We’re seeing Russia spreading disinformation, lies and propaganda,” Harris advised the annual get-together of politicians, diplomats and army officers, calling it “the playbook of Russian aggression”.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky stated Ukraine had fallen sufferer to an “info conflict, a hybrid conflict” however was “not responding to any provocations”.
“We all know they’re firing from civilian areas, to impress us, to make us reply,” he stated. “We have to preserve calm.”
The huge Russian troop build-up on the Ukrainian border has raised fears of a brand new conflict within the coronary heart of Europe.
Western leaders talking on the convention referred to as for a diplomatic answer, urging Russia to “pull again from the brink”. However in addition they warned Moscow of the results of an invasion: far-reaching sanctions that they warned would inflict enormous harm on its economic system.
Zelensky used his look in Munich to enchantment to the west to face by Ukraine, and stated western nations had let Kyiv down by appeasing Russia.
“Some nations are committing crimes whereas others are detached, and that indifference has turned them into accomplices,” he stated.
Zelensky referred to a speech Vladimir Putin gave on the Munich convention in 2007 when he “threw down a problem to the worldwide safety system”.
“How did the world reply? Appeasement,” he stated. “What do we have now because of this? The annexation of Crimea and aggression in opposition to my nation.”
Ukraine’s army stated two troopers have been killed and 4 injured throughout shelling within the japanese border area of Donbas, the place greater than 14,000 have died in a slow-burning conflict that broke out after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.
Ukrainian army officers and lawmakers touring frontline areas have been pressured to evacuate after coming below artillery fireplace.
Russian-backed separatist leaders in Donbas accused Kyiv of finishing up “terror assaults” that they stated, with out offering proof, left unspecified numbers useless and wounded.
Russian regulation enforcement stated it could examine studies Ukrainian artillery fireplace had landed on the Russian facet of the border.
Zelensky dismissed the studies as “lies”.
The separatist leaders introduced a mass evacuation of civilians to Russia — the place Putin promised them a fee of Rbs100,000 — and referred to as on all fighting-age males to mobilise.
Timecodes on the separatists’ video appeals have been dated Wednesday — earlier than the uptick in shelling started — including to suspicions that Russia had began a false flag operation as a pretext to invade.
British prime minister Boris Johnson stated the world wanted to organize for the “Russian playbook of deception that governs each operation of this sort”.
“There shall be a cascade of false claims about Ukraine, meant to unfold confusion,” he stated, including the Russians have been “spinning an online of falsehoods designed to current any Russian assault as a response to provocation”.
Germany and France urged their residents to go away Ukraine. That they had beforehand kept away from calls to evacuate made by nations together with the US and the UK.
Lufthansa, which owns airways together with Lufthansa, Austrian and Swiss, stated it could cease common flights to Kyiv and Odesa till the tip of February. KLM and Norwegian have additionally cancelled flights to Ukraine.
Exacerbating the tensions, Russia started strategic nuclear workout routines on Saturday. Russian state media confirmed Putin and Belarusian chief Alexander Lukashenko in a Kremlin command centre because the army launched ballistic and cruise missiles, in addition to new hypersonic weapons.
Harris warned the west would impose “far-reaching monetary sanctions and export controls” in opposition to Moscow ought to Putin give the order to assault Ukraine.
“Make no mistake, the imposition of those sweeping and co-ordinated measures will inflict nice harm on those that have to be held accountable,” she stated.
Johnson stated within the occasion of an invasion the west would “sanction Russian people and corporations of strategic significance to the Russian state”.
“We’ll make it unimaginable for them to lift finance on the London capital markets,” he advised the convention. “We’ll open up the matryoshka dolls of Russian-owned corporations and Russian-owned entities to search out the final word beneficiaries inside.”
Different leaders appealed to Russia to step again from the brink.
Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, stated Russia’s try to show Kyiv’s doable membership of Nato right into a “casus belli” was a “paradox” as a result of the difficulty was not on the west’s agenda.
Ursula von der Leyen, European Fee president, stated the west was “going through a blatant try to rewrite the principles of the worldwide order”.
Further reporting by Roman Olearchyk in Novoluhanske and Philip Georgiadis and Jasmine Cameron-Chileshe in London.