Ukraine enforces state of emergency in face of Russia military threat
Kiev, Feb 23 (EFE).- Ukraine on Wednesday declared a national state of emergency, began to conscript military reservists and initiated a legal process to allow civilians to bear arms as the country boosts its military readiness following Russia’s decision to recognize the independence of breakaway territories in the country’s east.
The Ukrainian ministry for foreign affairs said Moscow’s “recognition and support” of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics in the Donbas region was an act of “military aggression.”
Russia’s parliament on Tuesday approved the deployment of Russian troops abroad as President Vladimir Putin said he would order “peace keeping” forces into pro-Moscow separatist claimed areas in eastern Ukraine, something the West warned was a pretext to a possible wider invasion.
In response, Ukraine’s national security and defense council approved the state of emergency in all Ukrainian regions aside from Donetsk and Luhansk, which are already subject to one since the pro-Russian uprising in 2014.
The state of emergency will last for an initial period of 30 days, although can be rolled over as necessary.
The Ukrainian armed forces on Wednesday opened conscription of military reservists after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced the measure late Tuesday. Reservists will be asked to serve for a maximum period of one year.
The country’s parliament, meanwhile, took steps toward granting Ukrainians the right to bear arms although a final vote has yet to be cast.
In a separate statement on Wednesday, the foreign ministry urged all Ukrainian nationals to leave Russia to leave the country “immediately” warning that an escalation could limit Kiev’s ability to provide consular assistance on Russian soil.
Meanwhile, in an address to mark the Defender of the Fatherland Day, formerly Red Army Day, Putin repeated his stance that Russia’s security concerns were being ignored by Western powers and insisted that Moscow was still willing to resolve the dispute diplomatically.
“Our country is always open for a direct and honest dialogue, for searching diplomatic solutions to the most complicated issues, but I should repeat that Russia’s interests and the security of its citizens are unconditional,” Putin said.
Russia’s foreign ministry issued a statement warning of a “strong” response to sanctions leveled by the United States on Tuesday.
In Kiev, Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, on Wednesday called for Western sanctions, which varied in strength between the US, the European Union and the United Kingdom, to go further.
“To stop Putin from further aggression, we call on partners to impose more sanctions on Russia now,” a statement from his official Twitter account said.
“First decisive steps were taken yesterday, and we are grateful for them. Now the pressure needs to step up to stop Putin. Hit his economy and cronies. Hit more. Hit hard. Hit now.”
Washington on Tuesday welcomed Germany’s decision to shelve certification of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project with Russia, construction of which has already been completed.
The escalation in the Donbas region coincided with an ongoing build-up of Russian troops — estimated by the West to number some 190,000 — around Ukraine’s borders. EFE