Vladimir Putin has said that Russia will support the territorial claims of its proxy states in east Ukraine, dramatically increasing the likelihood of a larger war in the near future in what Joe Biden denounced as an attempt to carve out “a big chunk” of the country.
“Who in the Lord’s name does Putin think gives him the right to declare new so-called countries?” Biden said, announcing new sanctions on two Russian banks and sweeping measures to stop Russia raising capital in western markets.
In a dramatic move Germany halted the approval process for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia, while the EU and the UK announced sanctions on Russia in a show of concerted western resolve, with EU foreign ministers banning Russian bond trades in the European market. Boris Johnson revealed a package of asset freezes on five Russian banks and three high net worth individuals but faced criticism from his MPs for not going further. The UK, US and EU could all bring in further sanctions.
On Tuesday evening US secretary of state Antony Blinken said a meeting with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that had been scheduled for Thursday would not go ahead.
“Now that we see the invasion is beginning and Russia has made clear its wholesale rejection of diplomacy, it does not make sense to go forward with that meeting at this time,” he said.
Shrugging off threats of economic isolation, Putin enlarged the scope of Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine. [Continue reading…]