The United States, Canada, Japan and the European Union are tightening sanctions against Russia. The main thing about the situation around Ukraine is in the RBC material
The main thing by 12:35
- “President Putin decided to conduct a special military operation to demilitarize and the denazification of Ukraine so that, freed from this oppression, Ukrainians themselves could freely determine their future, — said Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
- Ukraine is ready to negotiate a neutral status with Russia, but it must also receive security guarantees, according to a statement by adviser to the head of the office of the President of Ukraine Mikhail Podolyak, received by RBC. “Ukraine has always left and leaves space for negotiations. Including now, when Russia went on a full-scale invasion. This war must be stopped. These hostilities must be stopped, — Podolyak said.
- The Russian Ministry of Defense announced that the military had agreed on the joint protection of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant with the Ukrainian security battalion. Control over the power plant was established the day before.
- The military department also announced the occupation of Snake Island in the Odessa region of Ukraine. The Zmeiny garrison laid down their arms.
- In the Donbass, the DPR forces, with fire support from Russia, occupied three settlements in the Mariupol direction (Nikolaevka, Novoignatovka and Bogdanovka). Ukrainian marines left their positions near Zamozhny and requested a humanitarian corridor to exit.
- The head of the DPR, Denis Pushilin, said that “a few days remained” before the people's militia entered the administrative borders of the Donetsk region.
- 118 military infrastructure facilities of Ukraine, including 13 communication points, were put out of action. 18 tanks and armored vehicles, seven multiple rocket launchers and five combat boats were destroyed.
- The Moscow Exchange index on the morning of February 25 rose by 13.3% to 2333 points. This is evidenced by trading data on the Moscow Exchange as of 11:45 Moscow time. The RTS index rose by 20.8% to 878 points.
- Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that his country had received a request from Ukraine to restrict the passage of Russian warships through the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles. At the same time, he noted that, in accordance with the Montreux Convention, Russia has the right to the passage of ships through the straits, in particular in order for them to return to their bases.
- The European Union will impose a ban on the sale of all aircraft and equipment for Russian airlines, sanctions against the energy sector, financial and visa restrictions, said the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.
- President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky announced the death of 137 Ukrainian citizens on the first day of the Russian special operation, ten officers were among the dead.
- According to Zelensky, Europe is afraid to talk about the prospect of his country's membership in NATO and the EU. He noted that “Ukraine is not afraid” including talking with Russia about security guarantees and status neutrality.
- US President Joe Biden said that American troops would not participate in the conflict in Ukraine, but would send additional units to Germany.
- Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko announced that a curfew had been introduced in the Ukrainian capital.
- The dollar exchange rate as of 11:45 Moscow time was ₽82.8, the euro exchange rate— ₽92.6.
- North Sea Brent oil is trading at $99.5 per barrel on the morning of February 25.
- The richest people in Russia have lost more than $38 billion since the start of the military operation in Ukraine, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, which tracks changes in real time. The president of LUKOIL, Vagit Alekperov, lost the most in a day. minus $ 6.2 billion. Loss of the head of the board of directors of Severstal;
New anti-Russian sanctions
US President Joe Biden announced the imposition of sanctions against several Russian banks : VTB, Otkritie, Sovcombank and Novikombank. The restrictions will also affect correspondent accounts of Sberbank.
Biden also announced that the US and allies would limit Russia's ability to do business in dollars, euros, pounds and yen.
In addition, Biden said that the new restrictions would also affect the Russian space program, and a blow to the export of high technologies should slow down the development of the Russian economy, including the modernization of the army.
The American president also allowed new sanctions against Russia.
When asked why it was decided not to cut off Russia from the SWIFT system, Biden replied that, in his opinion, the listed sanctions would already deal a serious blow to the Russian economy.
Biden said that US troops would not participate in the conflict in Ukraine, but will send additional units to Germany.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that among the new sanctions against Russia are the freezing of VTB assets in the country, the ban on Aeroflot fly to the United Kingdom, as well as restrictions for Russians on the amount of deposits in British banks in the amount of 50 thousand pounds sterling. and Uralvagonzavod.
Canada has imposed sanctions against the Central Bank and several Russian financial institutions: Sberbank, VTB, Otkritie, Sovcombank, Alfa-Bank. Russian Railways, Transneft, Gazprom, the Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank, the National Welfare Fund and individuals fell under the restrictions: State Duma deputy, head of Sberbank German Gref, head of VEB.RF Igor Shuvalov, businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin and others.
Japan, within the framework of the new sanctions package, will freeze the issuance of visas to some Russians, the assets of Russian financial institutions and restrict the export of a number of goods.
What Vladimir Putin said in an emergency address
Russian President Vladimir Putin issued an emergency address and announced the start of a special military operation in the Donbass. “Her [operation] goal— protection of people who have been subjected to bullying and genocide by the Kiev regime for eight years,— he emphasized. According to him, Russia cannot feel safe and exist with a constant threat from Ukraine. He stressed that the military operation in Donbass will be carried out in accordance with the UN Charter, the decision of the Federation Council and agreements with the DPR and LPR.
Where are the hostilities
On the evening of February 24, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced the resumption of water supply to the North Crimean Canal. This happened after the landing on the approaches to Kherson. The head of the Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, said that the water blockade of the peninsula was completed.
The Russian Ministry of Defense on the morning of February 24 announced pinpoint strikes on Ukraine's military infrastructure. Airfields and command posts in the area of Kiev, Kharkov and Odessa were attacked.
The military department announced the suppression of Ukrainian air defense systems, the destruction of the infrastructure of Ukrainian air bases.
The Ukrainian authorities reported shelling of military units and warehouses in the Kiev, Khmelnytsky, Dnepropetrovsk, Vinnitsa regions.
On the morning of February 24, the Border Guard Service of Ukraine reported attacks and shelling along the entire border from the Zhytomyr region (bordering only with Belarus) to Lugansk, as well as from the Crimea. In Kiev, they also claimed that Russian units had crossed the border. The FSB reported that all border units of Ukraine left their places of deployment on the border with Russia.
On the evening of February 24, the IAEA was notified in Kiev that they had lost control over the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
On the evening of February 24, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced the resumption of water supply to the North Crimean Canal. This happened after the landing on the approaches to Kherson. The head of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, said that the water blockade of the peninsula was completed.
The DPR authorities reported that they were shelling Ukrainian positions along the entire line of contact.
The Ministry of Defense reported that in the direction of the Volnovakha district center (Donetsk region), the people's militia of the DPR advanced 7 km. Fighting is also ongoing in the area of Stepovoye (north of Stanytsia Luganskaya).
On the afternoon of February 25, the Russian Defense Ministry reported that a Russian Su-25 had crashed in Ukraine “due to a technical error.” The military department reported that the pilot ejected and had already returned to his unit.
In the evening, the Russian military department reported the crash of an An-26 with military equipment in the Voronezh region. The cause of the accident was a technical failure. The crew of the aircraft died.
Dozens of people who participated in an uncoordinated action were detained in Moscow and St. Petersburg. People chanted anti-war slogans, after which they were sent to paddy wagons.
Stop air traffic
All flights were canceled at the airports of Rostov-on-Don, Krasnodar, Anapa, Belgorod, Astrakhan, Gelendzhik, Elista , Stavropol, Bryansk, Kursk and Voronezh.
Airspace over Ukraine is closed.
Recognition of the DNR and LNR
- On Monday, February 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed decrees recognizing the sovereignty of the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics. Putin also signed treaties of friendship and mutual assistance with the leaders of the DNR and LNR. He asked the Federal Assembly to ratify them.
- Official Kiev refused to recognize the decision of Russia and the independence of Donbass. Volodymyr Zelensky stressed that the borders of Ukraine will remain as recognized by the international community, “despite the statements of the Russian Federation.”
- In accordance with the decrees on recognition, Putin instructed that peacekeeping functions in the DPR and LPR be provided by Russian by the armed forces until the conclusion of the corresponding agreement.
- In accordance with the friendship treaties, Russia receives the right to build, use and improve its military infrastructure and military bases on the territory of the republics by its armed forces, jointly defend the border, and protect its citizens.
- Friendship agreements were concluded for ten years with automatic prolongation for the next five years.
- On Tuesday, February 22, at an emergency meeting, the Federation Council unanimously allowed President Vladimir Putin to use the Russian Armed Forces abroad— in the DNR and LNR.
- Vladimir Putin said that friendship treaties contain clauses on the provision of military assistance: “By this decision, we make it clear that, if necessary, we are ready to fulfill our duties <…> I'm not saying that the troops will go right now. And where they will go will depend on the specific situation on earth.
- The President of Russia also announced the boundaries within which the DNR and LNR are recognized. “We recognized the republics, and therefore their constitution. And there are registered borders within the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. All controversial issues will be resolved at the negotiations between the Kiev authorities and these republics. At the moment this is not possible. But I hope it will be so in the future,— he said.
What was said at the meeting of the Security Council on Donbass
- On February 21, during a meeting of the Russian Security Council, Putin said that the Ukrainian authorities were not going to implement the Minsk agreements. He suggested discussing the request of the leaders of the DPR and LPR for recognition of the sovereignty of the self-proclaimed republics at a meeting of the Russian Security Council.
- Putin explained that the danger of Ukraine joining NATO also lies in the fact that official Kiev threatens to “recapture Crimea and Sevastopol.” This carries the threat of a clash between Russia and the entire North Atlantic Alliance. At the same time, Putin considered that the moratorium on Ukraine's accession to NATO is not a concession. This is the time to prepare Kiev's accession to the alliance.
- Putin said that he had been talking with French President Macron until two in the morning, and he said that there were changes in the American position. “But what these changes are, he could not explain,” — said the president.
- During a discussion in the Kremlin, Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said that the Duma's request for recognition of the LPR and DPR should be supported in order to protect the people who live there. At the same time, Patrushev offered to respond to Biden's proposal for negotiations and “offer him two or three days to stop the carnage.”
- The head of government, Mikhail Mishustin, expressed a similar position. According to him, it is necessary to catalyze the issue at the meeting between Putin and Biden, and in case the US refuses to recognize the DPR and LPR, despite the threat of sanctions.
- Deputy Head of the Security Council Dmitry Medvedev recalled his experience of recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia. “This has saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. It was a lesson for NATO and a number of European countries that this is not the way to deal with Russia. We know what will happen, all proposals for sanctions. We understand that the pressure will be overwhelming, but we understand how to resist it. Bitter experience has shown that it will be difficult, but after a while this tension around our country will subside. Not quickly, but they will get tired of this situation and will ask us to return to the negotiations, — Medvedev said.
- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov suggested continuing dialogue with the United States on security guarantees, given that NATO's non-expansion to the east and the configuration of the alliance's deployment of troops in Europe are the key points. At the same time, he expressed confidence that the West would not change its position.
- Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that more than 59,000 Ukrainian troops are concentrated near the borders of the DPR and LPR, not counting representatives of nationalist detachments. According to him, there is a threat that nuclear weapons may appear in Ukraine. “We were left with no choice. We have to admit, — said Shoigu.
- Minister of Internal Affairs Vladimir Kolokoltsev called for recognizing the DPR and LPR within the borders of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions until 2014.
- You can see the speeches of all the participants in the discussion at the meeting of the Security Council in the broadcast, which went to RBC.
What Putin said in his address before he announced the recognition of the DNR and LNR
- At the beginning of his address to Russians and compatriots abroad, Vladimir Putin recalled the history of Ukraine. “Ukraine was entirely created by Bolshevik Russia. Lenin and his associates did this in a very crude way, by tearing away her own territories. Lenin, with his directives, created Ukraine and pushed the Donbass into it. And grateful descendants demolished monuments to him. Do you want decommunization? It suits us. We are ready to show Ukraine what real decommunization is,— the president said. “The leaders of the Communist Party felt that they had solved the national question. But fraud and deceit are costly. The originally laid mine of nationalism— the right to withdraw from the USSR— was biding her time. And the leadership of the Communist Party limited itself to frank verbiage about the restoration of Lenin's right to self-determination.
- According to Putin, Russia has helped Ukraine since 1991 with $250 billion in soft loans. Russia took upon itself the repayment of all Soviet debt and fulfilled its obligations. But Kiev continued to demand Russian assets abroad. “Instead of partnership, dependency began to prevail. Suffice it to recall the banal theft of gas. The West was blackmailed by rapprochement with Moscow, seeking preferences.
- Putin noted that the radicals over and over again put pressure on the weak government. There was no stable statehood, and the elections became a screen for the redistribution of power between the clans. “Corruption has corroded all branches of government. The radicals took advantage of this. The country was swept by a wave of terror. Nobody is looking for criminals in Odessa, but we know them by name, we will do everything to punish them.
- “The radicals pushed Ukraine into the abyss of civil war. Almost 6 million Ukrainians were forced to go abroad in search of work. The dowry from the USSR and the Russian Empire was squandered and taken into pockets. Ukraine itself has been driven under external control, it is carried out through a network of foreign advisers, NGOs. In Ukraine, they invented sanctions against their own citizens, TV channels, they are preparing reprisals against the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.
- In March 2021, Ukraine adopted a strategy for organizing a terrorist underground in Crimea and Donbass. “We know that there have already been statements that Ukraine intends to create its own nuclear weapons. This is not mere bravado. Ukraine has a Soviet technological backlog. The situation in the world with the appearance of WMD in Ukraine will change dramatically.
- “In recent months, Western weapons have been pouring into Ukraine in a continuous stream. The command and control system of the troops is integrated with the NATO ones, they can be controlled from the NATO headquarters. The exercises are clearly anti-Russian. Accession of Ukraine to NATO— a direct threat to Russia's security.
- “In 2000, during a visit to Moscow by Bill Clinton, I asked how America would feel about Russia joining NATO. He replied that he was very reserved. Well, you don't want to see us as a friend, but why make an enemy out of us? They just don't need a big and strong country. The situation continues to deteriorate, including in the technical sphere. The US missile defense system is expanding, and the deployment of this system in Ukraine— the question is predetermined. The threat of a surprise strike against our country will increase.”
- “We do not want to believe that Ukraine will be the springboard. Many airfields are close to our borders, the Pentagon is developing ground-based strike weapons. If deployed in Ukraine, they will be able to hit the entire European part of Russia, as well as territories beyond the Urals. It's a knife to the throat.
- “In response to our proposals, there were only attempts to divert the discussion to the side. We said that all issues should be considered as a package: refusal to expand NATO, refusal to deploy strike infrastructure near the borders, return of military infrastructure to the situation of 1997. But they are again trying to blackmail us, they threaten us with sanctions, which will be introduced anyway. And the reason for them can be fabricated in order to hold back the development of Russia.
- “In the current situation, we have the right to take retaliatory measures to ensure our own security. This is how we will do it.
New escalation around Ukraine
On Friday afternoon, February 18, the DPR authorities announced attempts by Ukrainian special forces to organize sabotage at enterprises. Among them— chemical plant in Gorlovka. In Donetsk, they said that the Ukrainian army plans to deliver the main blow on the Svetlodarskaya Bulge in order to cut the lines of communication between Donetsk and Luhansk.
The DPR and LPR announced the evacuation of the population to the territory of Russia in connection with the aggravation. Later, mobilization was announced. Those in the reserve should arrive at the military registration and enlistment offices.
The Foreign Ministries of the DPR and LPR refused Kiev's proposals to hold an extraordinary meeting of the contact group on settlement in Donbass.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmitry Kuleba on his Twitter said that Kiev does not plan any attack on the republics of Donbass. According to him, Ukraine is counting on a diplomatic settlement of the conflict. He called the statements from Donetsk and Luhansk part of “Russian propaganda”.
The Russian authorities called on Ukraine to negotiate. "All that Kiev needs to do— it is to sit down at the negotiating table with representatives of Donbass and agree on political, military, economic and humanitarian measures to end this conflict. The sooner this happens, the better, & mdash; said Russian President Vladimir Putin.
On February 19, US President Joe Biden said that an attack by Russian troops on Ukraine could happen “in the coming weeks.” and even “in the coming days.”
Vladimir Zelensky during the Munich Conference demanded the convening of a summit of countries— participants in the Budapest Memorandum, which provided for Ukraine's renunciation of nuclear weapons. At the same time, Zelensky said that the return of Donbass and Crimea to Ukraine is possible only by peaceful means.
Joint Polish-American exercises began in the southeast of the country, said Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak. As part of agreements with NATO and bilateral agreements with the United States, about 5,000 American soldiers are now stationed in Poland. Another 4,700 troops arrived in the country as additional forces “due to a security threat.”
On the afternoon of February 21, the press service of the Southern Military District reported that a sabotage group from Ukraine broke into the territory of the Rostov region. Two armored vehicles arrived from the territory of Ukraine to evacuate them. They were destroyed, five saboteurs were killed. According to official data, there are no casualties among the Russian border guards.
The FSB later reported that the BMPs that violated the border were discovered by the border guards. “The group was stopped and destroyed in the course of armed resistance”, — the department said. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmitry Kuleba denied the battle in the Rostov region.
On the morning of February 21, Pushilin said that near the village of Kominternovo (32 km from the Russian border), the 36th brigade of the Ukrainian army attacked the positions of the People's Militia of the DPR. “There is a battle near the border with the Russian Federation”, — he said.
Later, the Ministry of State Security of the DPR reported that it was a sabotage group of the Ukrainian army, which in the Novoazovsky district (south of the DPR) tried to break through to the Russian border, blew up a missile -artillery depot, but was met with fire.
The FSB of Russia reported that a projectile fired from the territory of Ukraine destroyed a building in the Rostov region, which the department called the “place of duty of border guards.”
The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine called the message about the shelling of the border post a provocation.
How the evacuation from the DNR and LNR takes place
The population is being evacuated in the DPR. They were the first to take out orphans from the local boarding school from Donetsk. Later, children, women and the elderly were taken out of the DPR and LPR. On the first day, men of military age could also leave the republics.
The press service of the government reported that refugees from the DPR and LPR would be paid 10,000 rubles at a time. from the reserve fund.
In total, more than 80,000 civilians have left Donbass since Friday.
The head of the DPR, Pushilin, said that, in his opinion, the number evacuees can reach several hundred thousand people.
What happened before the statements from Donetsk and Luhansk about the impending offensive
Reports that Russia is building up its military presence on the border with Ukraine began to appear in the Western media in October 2021. The Kremlin said that the movement of Russian troops across the country— solely the business of Russia.
On February 17, the Russian Foreign Ministry published a reaction to the US responses on security guarantees. Moscow stated that there was no constructive response from Washington to the Russian proposals. “In the absence of the readiness of the American side to agree on firm, legally binding guarantees of our security from the United States and its allies, Russia will be forced to respond, including through the implementation of measures of a military-technical nature,” — stated in the message of the Foreign Ministry.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken invited his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov to hold a meeting in Europe next week. According to him, he sent a corresponding letter to Lavrov. According to Blinken, these talks may pave the way for a meeting between the leaders of the two countries.
Despite reports about the withdrawal of Russian troops from the exercises to their places of permanent deployment, the West continued to talk about a possible invasion of Ukraine. US President Joe Biden said on Thursday that Russia, with a “very high” likely to invade Ukraine “in the next few days.” According to Biden, he has information that Moscow is going to conduct a military operation “under a false flag.” The Kremlin responded that they were talking about escalating the situation.
The Washington Post, citing unnamed officials in Washington, reported that the statements of the Russian Defense Ministry were considered there as a “trick”; with the aim of misleading Western countries.
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky said he sees no point in direct negotiations with the DPR and LPR. “It's pointless. They just don't solve anything. Why waste time on this? he said.
Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksiy Danilov said that Kiev does not see signs of preparations for a full-scale operation by Russia. In his opinion, the purpose of the provocation was to force Ukraine to start “strongly responding militarily”, and then to accuse the Ukrainian authorities of organizing the provocation.
What dates and scenarios of escalation in Ukraine were named by the West
That the alleged “invasion” Russia to Ukraine may begin on February 16, before anyone— February 12 & mdash; reported citing sources Der Spiegel and Bloomberg. According to Bloomberg, the invasion was supposed to start on February 15th. At the same time, at the beginning of the month, on February 5, Bloomberg reported on the invasion that had already taken place, publishing the headline “Russia invades Ukraine.” The agency subsequently removed the post and acknowledged the error.
- Called the date of the alleged invasion and other media. So, the fact that US President Joe Biden warned the allies about the preparation of a military operation by Russia on February 16, Politico reported, citing a source. The British official, in turn, told Politico that London has a “different interpretation” of intelligence data. Two European diplomats refused to believe in the possibility of aggression.
- Talk publicly about the invasion of Russia and American officials. Moscow will go on the offensive before the end of the Olympic Games in Beijing— until February 20, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on February 11. He noted that Washington does not know whether Russian President Vladimir Putin made the decision to launch the attack and issued such an order. The fact that Russia could invade a neighboring state during the Olympics was not ruled out by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. He stated that this could happen at any time, including during the Games.
- British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said on February 10 that intelligence had reported that Russia was preparing a “false flag” operation to come up with a pretext for attacking Ukraine. He also warned of Moscow's plans to carry out cyberattacks.
Negotiations amid reports of escalation
Announcement of the gradual return of Russian troops involved in military exercises the military was preceded by intense negotiations.
The day before, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz held talks in Kiev with Volodymyr Zelensky. After the meeting, Scholz said that Ukraine had promised to prepare bills on special status and elections in Donbass. “The President assured me that Ukraine would present draft laws on special status and elections for discussion,” — Scholz said. He also called for direct talks between Moscow and Kiev and reaffirmed his commitment to the Normandy format.
The President of Ukraine agreed that Kiev and Berlin have disagreements on the Nord Stream 2 issue. He asked Scholz for “energy security guarantees.” “It is important that Germany becomes a guarantor of the continuation of gas transit through the territory of Ukraine”, — said Zelensky.
Before meeting with Scholz, Putin held talks with US President Joe Biden, a telephone conversation took place on Saturday, February 12, and lasted about an hour. According to the White House, Biden “clearly communicated” Putin, what would be the consequences for Russia in the event of an escalation around Ukraine.
In turn, the Kremlin said that Biden, in a conversation, offered Putin a number of considerations on Moscow's concerns, but they, however, do not concern key Russian proposals for security guarantees. Moscow also said that Biden, as expected, mentioned anti-Russian sanctions due to the situation in Ukraine, but there was no emphasis on this issue.
Even earlier, on February 9 and 11, British Foreign and Defense Ministers Liz Truss and Ben Wallace visited Moscow. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov described the talks with Truss as a conversation “dumb with deaf.” He noted that “ultimatums, threats, moralizing” this is a road to nowhere».
How Russia and Ukraine reacted to the “invasion” scenario
The authorities of Western countries and foreign media are colluding and creating an artificial escalation around Ukraine, commented on the new statements in the Russian Foreign Ministry. “We can talk about the conspiracy of the authorities of Western countries and the media in order to escalate artificial tension around Ukraine through a massive and coordinated stuffing of false information in geopolitical interests,” — the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
“The hysteria of the White House is more revealing than ever. The Anglo-Saxons need a war. At any cost,»— says Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova. She announced the “skating rink of the American military-political machine”, ready to go “through the lives of people.”
The Ministry of Defense announced that the Black Sea Fleet was conducting exercises to develop the defense of the Crimean coast, the Black Sea Fleet's bases, and objects of the economic sector , as well as maritime communications and areas of maritime economic activity from possible military threats.
At the Osipovichsky training ground, as part of the joint Russian-Belarusian military exercises “Allied Resolve 2022” artillery strikes against illegal armed groups were practiced.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that there is now too much information about Russia's invasion of Ukraine. He called for proof of the planned invasion, if available. Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmigal warned citizens against panic and noted that the Ukrainian army and economy feel confident.
On the morning of February 15, “Strana.ua” reported, citing sources, about Zelensky's statement at a meeting of the Servant of the People party. He explained to the deputies that the countries friendly to Ukraine are escalating the story of the war, and tried to explain to those present at the meeting that the country is being “played”, but it is resisting. According to the president, Kiev even “scandalized” with partners because of the threat of war, Strana.ua wrote.
What does the West threaten Moscow in the event of an “invasion of Ukraine”
Reuters, citing a source in the administration of French President Emmanuel Macron, said that Western countries are discussing sanctions aimed at restricting Russia's access to the SWIFT international interbank system.
At the same time, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said that the shutdown Russia from the SWIFT payment system is currently not included in the package of sanctions under consideration, since some EU countries are not ready to give in to their own interests.
Since December, American President Joe Biden has repeatedly said that in the event of an escalation, Russia would face sanctions that were not there before. On January 20, he named among the possible consequences that Russian banks will not be able to conduct transactions with dollars.
Reuters also reported on possible US restrictions on the supply of electronics to Russia. We are talking about microcircuits and semiconductors produced using American technologies. The head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Denis Manturov, said that such restrictions would primarily hit the producers themselves, who would lose an attractive market. The minister explained such a proposal as an attempt by the Americans to oust even potential competitors.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken explained that Washington would not impose preventive sanctions, since in this case they would lose their deterrent effect.
London has also threatened Moscow with “the toughest sanctions regime against Russia that we have ever had”, not only in the event of an “invasion”; to Ukraine, but also when trying to install a “puppet” mode. But after a visit to Moscow, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told RBC that sanctions would be imposed only in the event of an invasion. “We will do it (impose sanctions.— RBC), only if there is an invasion of Ukraine. We do not want this, we do not want to impose sanctions, we would prefer to have good relations with Russia, — she said. Among the possible sanctions of London was called, in particular, the freezing of assets of Russian oligarchs in the UK. According to The Times, Britain may impose sanctions against Russian energy companies.
The US and EU are finalizing packages of sanctions against Russia. Disconnection from the interbank payment system SWIFT is not included in the list of possible measures, Reuters writes, citing US and European officials. Sanctions are likely to be imposed on major Russian banks and “some Russian oligarchs,” and there are plans to curb defense and technology exports, Reuters sources say. «Purpose— develop sanctions that will really hit Russia, but at the same time watch out for the associated risks with the knowledge that sanctions will hit Europe harder,” — one source told Reuters.
On February 11, Republican U.S. Senator James Lankford introduced proposals for a bill to sanction “Belarus or any other country that contributes to Russia's ongoing unprovoked aggression against <…> Ukraine". “Belarus is letting thousands of Russian troops into its territory. The US should make it clear that any country that supports Russia's move to invade Ukraine will face severe economic and diplomatic sanctions.” Lankford said.
What Russia and NATO are trying to agree on
On December 7, Presidents of Russia and the United States Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden held two-hour talks via video link. Ukraine was among the main topics. A week later, Russia handed over to the United States and NATO draft agreements on security guarantees. Among them, the refusal to use other states to prepare an attack on each other, the refusal to expand NATO to the east, the absence of US bases in the countries of the former USSR, the refusal to deploy armed forces in areas where their deployment would be perceived as a threat, NATO's refusal to conduct military activities in Ukraine, renunciation of the deployment of nuclear weapons abroad.
In the United States, the EU and NATO have repeatedly declared common approaches in regard to the situation around Ukraine and negotiations with Russia. At the same time, there are certain differences in the positions of the countries and their steps. Thus, at the end of January, Great Britain agreed to transfer anti-tank guns to Ukraine, while the German authorities refused to send howitzers to Kiev and opposed the provision of old Soviet stockpiles of weapons that are in Estonia to Ukraine.
On January 26, NATO and the United States handed over to the Foreign Ministry a written response to Russian demands and asked not to publish it in the public space. As US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said after that, the responses contained US concerns about Moscow's actions and counter-proposals from the American side. According to the Secretary of State, Washington's written responses are “a set of ideas”, the decision on further steps remains with Moscow.
A few days later, Putin, at talks with Macron, said that in response, the West ignored the principle of the indivisibility of security, which is recorded in the documents of the OSCE and the Council of Russia— NATO. It provides that no one should strengthen their security at the expense of the security of other countries.
Putin said that Russia is studying the responses of the United States and NATO, and will decide on further actions later.
On February 1, Lavrov sent a message to the heads of the foreign affairs departments of the United States, Canada and a number of European countries. “It won't work like that. The meaning of the agreements on the indivisibility of security lies in the fact that security is either one for all, or there is none for anyone. And as stipulated in the Istanbul Charter, each state— an OSCE member has an equal right to security, not just NATO members, who interpret this right as referring exclusively to members of the North Atlantic “exclusive” club»,— said the head of the Foreign Ministry.
Russia cannot accept the response of the European Union and NATO to Lavrov's letter about their understanding of the principle of indivisibility of security, Maria Zakharova said on February 11. She recalled that Lavrov addressed a letter to the Foreign Ministers of 37 states— United States, Canada and European countries, and it was emphasized that Russia expects a “detailed response in a national capacity.” “Instead, [NATO Secretary General] Jens Stoltenberg and [EU diplomat] Josep Borrell write to us, which we did not contact. Such a step cannot be described otherwise than as a manifestation of diplomatic impoliteness and disrespect for our request, — said the representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry.