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President Joe Biden on Tuesday confirmed that the United States has observed Russia moving supplies of blood towards its border with Ukraine, saying it showed that Vladimir Putin was intent on war – as Ukraine’s foreign minister made a swipe at Biden and insisted there was no such thing as a ‘minor incursion’ of his country. 

Biden again strongly condemned Putin’s actions in Ukraine, and detailed sanctions against senior Russian figures – which were swiftly laughed off by the Russian ambassador to the U.S. 

‘Russia has moved supplies of blood and medical equipment into position on their border,’ said Biden, speaking from the White House.

‘You don’t need blood unless you plan on starting a war.’

There are believed to be 100,000-190,000 Russian troops surrounding Ukraine, and on Tuesday a huge military convoy of more than 100 military trucks with soldiers was also seen heading towards the Ukrainian border. 

Satellite photos showed the construction of what appeared to be a field hospital in Belgorod, Russia – 50 miles from the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.

The site already had shown evidence of troops and equipment.

Another satellite image shows a housing area for troops and a field hospital at Zyabrovka air base in Belarus.

President Joe Biden announced in Tuesday remarks sanctions on two Russian banks and cut off western money and previewed there is more to come after Putin broke 'international law' by moving his forces into Ukraine

President Joe Biden announced in Tuesday remarks sanctions on two Russian banks and cut off western money and previewed there is more to come after Putin broke 'international law' by moving his forces into Ukraine

President Joe Biden announced in Tuesday remarks sanctions on two Russian banks and cut off western money and previewed there is more to come after Putin broke ‘international law’ by moving his forces into Ukraine

Putin, pictured on Tuesday, said he had not yet decided whether to send in troops - but photos showed he already had, with tanks rolling through Donetsk

Putin, pictured on Tuesday, said he had not yet decided whether to send in troops - but photos showed he already had, with tanks rolling through Donetsk

Putin, pictured on Tuesday, said he had not yet decided whether to send in troops – but photos showed he already had, with tanks rolling through Donetsk

A satellite image shows a housing area for troops and a field hospital at Zyabrovka air base in Belarus

A satellite image shows a housing area for troops and a field hospital at Zyabrovka air base in Belarus

A satellite image shows a housing area for troops and a field hospital at Zyabrovka air base in Belarus

A satellite image shows troop tents and a field hospital in Novoozernoye, Crimea

A satellite image shows troop tents and a field hospital in Novoozernoye, Crimea

A satellite image shows troop tents and a field hospital in Novoozernoye, Crimea

More troop tents and a field hospital have been pictured in Novoozernoye, Crimea.

The Pentagon has previously acknowledged the deployment of ‘medical support’ as part of Russia’s buildup.

‘It doesn’t guarantee that there’s going to be another attack, but you would not execute another attack unless you have that in hand,’ said Ben Hodges, a retired U.S. lieutenant general now with the Center for European Policy Analysis research institute. 

The Russian maneuvering comes as Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba pushed back against Biden’s remark from last month.

Biden on January 19 was asked how the U.S. would respond to a Russian invasion of Ukraine, and said it would depend if it was ‘a minor incursion’ or if ‘they actually do what they’re capable of doing with the force amassed on the border’. 

Kuleba, appearing at a press conference in Washington DC at the State Department, was asked whether he agreed that ‘what we have seen so far is a minor invasion, that there is more to come, and so it only warrants sort of lesser U.S. sanctions.’

Kuleba replied: ‘First, there is no minor, middle or major invasion. Invasion is an invasion.

‘Second, as I said earlier, we do appreciate the sanctions which were announced today. They target Russia. They are very specific. They are painful.’

Dmytro Kuleba, the Ukrainian foreign minister, was in Washington DC on Tuesday for talks with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. Kuleba said: 'Invasion is invasion'

Dmytro Kuleba, the Ukrainian foreign minister, was in Washington DC on Tuesday for talks with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. Kuleba said: 'Invasion is invasion'

Dmytro Kuleba, the Ukrainian foreign minister, was in Washington DC on Tuesday for talks with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. Kuleba said: ‘Invasion is invasion’ 

Kuleba, pictured with Blinken at the State Department on Tuesday, said Ukraine appreciated the sanctions the U.S. placed on Russian officials

Kuleba, pictured with Blinken at the State Department on Tuesday, said Ukraine appreciated the sanctions the U.S. placed on Russian officials

Kuleba, pictured with Blinken at the State Department on Tuesday, said Ukraine appreciated the sanctions the U.S. placed on Russian officials 

'Who in the Lord's name does Putin think gives him the right to declare new so-called 'countries' on territory that belonged to his neighbors?' Biden questioned in his Tuesday afternoon remarks. The map above shows a large eastern region of Ukraine now occupied by pro-Russian separatists that Putin has legitimized with his decree on Monday

'Who in the Lord's name does Putin think gives him the right to declare new so-called 'countries' on territory that belonged to his neighbors?' Biden questioned in his Tuesday afternoon remarks. The map above shows a large eastern region of Ukraine now occupied by pro-Russian separatists that Putin has legitimized with his decree on Monday

‘Who in the Lord’s name does Putin think gives him the right to declare new so-called ‘countries’ on territory that belonged to his neighbors?’ Biden questioned in his Tuesday afternoon remarks. The map above shows a large eastern region of Ukraine now occupied by pro-Russian separatists that Putin has legitimized with his decree on Monday

The U.S. on Tuesday moved to cut off Russia’s government from Western finance, sanctioning two of its banks and blocking it from trading in its debt on American and European markets.

‘Yesterday Vladimir Putin recognized two regions of Ukraine as independent states and he bizarrely asserted that these regions are no longer part of Ukraine and they are sovereign territory,’ Biden said at the White House on Tuesday.

‘To put it simply, Russia just announced that it is carving out a big chunk of Ukraine.

‘Who in the Lord’s name does Putin think gives him the right to declare new so-called ‘countries’ on territory that belonged to his neighbors?’ the president said.

The administration’s actions hit civilian leaders in Russia’s leadership hierarchy and two Russian banks considered especially close to the Kremlin and Russia’s military, with more than $80 billion in assets. That includes freezing all of those banks’ assets under U.S. jurisdictions.

Biden, though, did hold back some of the broadest and toughest of the financial penalties contemplated by the U.S., including sanctions that would reinforce the hold that Germany put on any startup of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline; an export ban that would deny Russia U.S. high tech for its industries and military; and sweeping bans that could cripple Russia’s ability to do business with the rest of the world.

Biden said he was moving additional U.S. troops to the Baltics, though he described the deployments as purely ‘defensive,’ asserting, ‘We have no intention of fighting Russia.’

A military truck drives along a street after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the deployment of Russian troops

A military truck drives along a street after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the deployment of Russian troops

A military truck drives along a street after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the deployment of Russian troops

A tank, believed to be Russian, is spotted on a street near the city of Donetsk in separatist-held regions of eastern Ukraine

A tank, believed to be Russian, is spotted on a street near the city of Donetsk in separatist-held regions of eastern Ukraine

A tank, believed to be Russian, is spotted on a street near the city of Donetsk in separatist-held regions of eastern Ukraine

A tank drives along a street after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the deployment of Russian troops to two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine

A tank drives along a street after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the deployment of Russian troops to two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine

A tank drives along a street after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the deployment of Russian troops to two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine

 

Russian artillery pieces are pictured in Rostov-on-Don, on the Russian side of the Ukrainian border, on Tuesday - as Vladimir Putin ordered his forces to advance on to Ukrainian territory

Russian artillery pieces are pictured in Rostov-on-Don, on the Russian side of the Ukrainian border, on Tuesday - as Vladimir Putin ordered his forces to advance on to Ukrainian territory

Russian artillery pieces are pictured in Rostov-on-Don, on the Russian side of the Ukrainian border, on Tuesday – as Vladimir Putin ordered his forces to advance on to Ukrainian territory

Russian mobile artillery and armoured troop carriers are seen in Russia's Rostov-on-Don region on Tuesday, close to the border with Ukraine's separatist-held areas

Russian mobile artillery and armoured troop carriers are seen in Russia's Rostov-on-Don region on Tuesday, close to the border with Ukraine's separatist-held areas

Russian mobile artillery and armoured troop carriers are seen in Russia’s Rostov-on-Don region on Tuesday, close to the border with Ukraine’s separatist-held areas

Russian troops are seen as armoured vehicles manoeuvre in muddy conditions in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, close to rebel-held areas in eastern Ukraine

Russian troops are seen as armoured vehicles manoeuvre in muddy conditions in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, close to rebel-held areas in eastern Ukraine

Russian troops are seen as armoured vehicles manoeuvre in muddy conditions in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, close to rebel-held areas in eastern Ukraine

The U.S. is sending about 800 infantry troops and 40 attack aircraft to NATO’s eastern flank from other locations within Europe, according to a senior defense official.

In addition, a contingent of F-35 strike fighters and AH-64 Apache attack helicopters will also be relocated.

Anatoly Antonov, the Russian ambassador to the U.S., shrugged off the new sanctions.

‘I don’t remember a single day when our country lived without any restrictions from the Western world,’ Antonov said.

‘We learned how to work in such conditions. And not only survive, but also develop our state.

‘There is no doubt that the sanctions imposed against us will hurt the global financial and energy markets. The United States will not be left out, where ordinary citizens will feel the full consequences of rising prices.’

He said that U.S. sanctions against Russia would not solve anything.

‘History does not teach everyone. Sanctions will not solve anything with regard to Russia,’ he added.

‘It is hard to imagine that anyone in Washington is counting on Russia to revise its foreign policy under the threat of restrictions.’

Antonio Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, on Tuesday evening warned that the threat was grave.

‘Our world is facing the biggest global peace and security crisis in recent years — certainly in my tenure as secretary general,’ he said.

‘We face a moment that I sincerely hoped would not come.’

More than 10,000 soldiers entered separatist-occupied areas overnight Monday, a source with links to Ukrainian military intelligence told MailOnline, with 6,000 sent to Donetsk, 5,000 to Luhansk and 1,500 to the city of Horlivka.

‘It is difficult to believe [Putin] could have moved that quickly – but he had a long time to prepare,’ the source said.

Putin said that he had not decided to send in troops ‘right at this moment’ – but officials told The New York Times the invasion started overnight. 

Guterres said he was ‘concerned about the perversion of the concept of peacekeeping’, after Putin described the troops he wanted to send into the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhanks as ‘peacekeepers’.

‘When troops of one country enter the territory of another country without its consent, they are not impartial peacekeepers,’ Guterres told reporters.

‘They are not peacekeepers at all.’

Hopes for a diplomatic resolution to the threat of invasion, which U.S. officials have for weeks portrayed as all but inevitable, appeared to evaporate.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled plans for a Thursday meeting in Geneva with his Russian counterpart, saying it would not be productive and that Russia’s actions indicated Moscow was not serious about a peaceful path to resolving the crisis.

Women and children are loaded on to buses in rebel-occupied Ukraine, so they can be 'evacuated' to Russia

Women and children are loaded on to buses in rebel-occupied Ukraine, so they can be 'evacuated' to Russia

Women and children are loaded on to buses in rebel-occupied Ukraine, so they can be ‘evacuated’ to Russia

The coffin of Ukrainian Captain Anton Sidorov is seen in Kiev this morning, who died on the front line on Feb 19th

The coffin of Ukrainian Captain Anton Sidorov is seen in Kiev this morning, who died on the front line on Feb 19th

The coffin of Ukrainian Captain Anton Sidorov is seen in Kiev this morning, who died on the front line on Feb 19th

Putin on Tuesday laid out three conditions to end the crisis that has threatened to plunge Europe back into war, raising the specter of massive casualties, energy shortages across the continent and global economic chaos.

Putin said the crisis could be resolved if Kiev recognizes Russia’s sovereignty over Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Moscow annexed after seizing it from Ukraine in 2014; renounces its bid to join NATO; and partially demilitarizes.

The West has decried the annexation of Crimea as a violation of international law and has previously flatly rejected permanently barring Ukraine from NATO.

Asked whether he has sent any Russian troops into Ukraine and how far they could go, Putin responded: ‘I haven’t said that the troops will go there right now.’

He added that ‘it’s impossible to forecast a specific pattern of action — it will depend on a concrete situation as it takes shape on the ground.’

Western leaders have long warned Moscow would look for cover to invade — and just such a pretext appeared to come Monday, when Putin recognized the independence of the Donetsk and Luhansk separatist regions.

The Kremlin then raised the stakes further by saying that recognition extends even to the large parts of those two regions now held by Ukrainian forces, including the major Azov Sea port of Mariupol.

He added, however, that the rebels should eventually negotiate with Ukraine.

Volodymyr Zelensky, in a speech to the Ukrainian nation on Monday night, vowed 'we are not afraid of anyone or anything' and that 'we will not give anything to anyone' in defiance of Russian pressure

Volodymyr Zelensky, in a speech to the Ukrainian nation on Monday night, vowed 'we are not afraid of anyone or anything' and that 'we will not give anything to anyone' in defiance of Russian pressure

Volodymyr Zelensky, in a speech to the Ukrainian nation on Monday night, vowed ‘we are not afraid of anyone or anything’ and that ‘we will not give anything to anyone’ in defiance of Russian pressure

Condemnation from around the world was quick.

In Washington, lawmakers from both parties in Congress vowed continued U.S. support for Ukraine, even as some pushed for swifter and even more severe sanctions on Russia.

Senators had been considering sanctions package but held off as the White House pursued its strategy.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he would consider breaking diplomatic ties with Russia, and Kiev recalled its ambassador in Moscow.

If Putin pushes farther into Ukraine, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg insisted the West would move in lockstep.

‘If Russia decides once again to use force against Ukraine, there will be even stronger sanctions, even a higher price to pay,’ he said.

Zelenskyy said on Tuesday he was calling up some of the country’s military reservists but added there was no need for a full military mobilization.

The head of the National Security and Defense Council, Oleksii Danilov, said earlier this year that Ukraine can call up up to 2.5 million people.

In an address to the nation, Zelenskyy said his decree applied only to those assigned to the so-called operational reserve, which is typically activated during ongoing hostilities, and covers ‘a special period of time,’ without clarifying what that means.

‘Today there is no need for a full mobilization. We need to quickly add additional staff to the Ukrainian army and other military formations,’ he said.

Why Putin has the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk how they became separatist 

(SOURCE: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Amid fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, tensions have spiked in the country’s east, where Ukrainian forces are locked in a long conflict with Russia-backed separatists.

More than 14,000 people have been killed in nearly eight years of fighting, and a sharp increase in skirmishes in recent days have raising concerns that Moscow could use the situation as a pretext for an incursion. President Vladimir Putin said Monday he was mulling the recognition of the rebel regions´ independence, a move that would further ratchet up tensions with the West.

Here is a look at the rebel-controlled territories in eastern Ukraine:

SEPARATIST REBELLION IN THE EAST

When Ukraine’s Moscow-friendly president was driven from office by mass protests in February 2014, Russia responded by annexing Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. It then threw its weight behind an insurgency in the mostly Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine region known as Donbas.

In April 2014, Russia-backed rebels seized government buildings in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, proclaimed the creation of ‘people’s republics’ and battled Ukrainian troops and volunteer battalions.

The following month, the separatist regions held a popular vote to declare independence and make a bid to become part of Russia. Moscow hasn’t accepted the motion, just used the regions as a tool to keep Ukraine in its orbit and prevent it from joining NATO.

Ukraine and the West accused Russia of backing the rebels with troops and weapons. Moscow denied that, saying any Russians who fought there were volunteers.

Amid ferocious battles involving tanks, heavy artillery and warplanes, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 people aboard. An international probe concluded that the passenger jet was downed by a Russia-supplied missile from the rebel-controlled territory in Ukraine. Moscow still denied any involvement.

The following month, the separatist regions held a popular vote to declare independence and make a bid to become part of Russia. Moscow hasn’t accepted the motion, just used the regions as a tool to keep Ukraine in its orbit and prevent it from joining NATO.

Ukraine and the West accused Russia of backing the rebels with troops and weapons. Moscow denied that, saying any Russians who fought there were volunteers.

Amid ferocious battles involving tanks, heavy artillery and warplanes, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 people aboard. An international probe concluded that the passenger jet was downed by a Russia-supplied missile from the rebel-controlled territory in Ukraine. Moscow still denied any involvement.

PEACE AGREEMENTS FOR EASTERN UKRAINE

After a massive defeat of Ukrainian troops in August 2014, envoys from Kiev, the rebels and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe signed a truce in the Belarusian capital of Minsk in September 2014.

The document envisaged an OSCE-observed cease-fire, a pullback of all foreign fighters, an exchange of prisoners and hostages, an amnesty for the rebels and a promise that separatist regions could have a degree of self-rule.

The deal quickly collapsed and large-scale fighting resumed, leading to another major defeat for Ukrainian forces at Debaltseve in January-February of 2015.

France and Germany brokered another peace agreement, which was signed in Minsk in February 2015 by representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the rebels. It envisaged a new cease-fire, a pullback of heavy weapons and a series of moves toward a political settlement. A declaration backing the deal was signed by the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany.

A FROZEN CONFLICT IN UKRAINE

The 2015 peace deal was a major diplomatic coup for the Kremlin, obliging Ukraine to grant special status to the separatist regions, allowing them to create their own police force and have a say in appointing local prosecutors and judges. It also envisaged that Ukraine could only regain control over the roughly 200-kilometer (125-mile) border with Russia in rebel regions after they get self-rule and hold OSCE-monitored local elections – balloting that would almost certainly keep pro-Moscow rebels in power there.

Many Ukrainians see it as a betrayal of national interests and its implementation has stalled.

The Minsk document helped end full-scale fighting, but the situation has remained tense and regular skirmishes have continued.

With the Minsk deal stalled, Moscow’s hope to use rebel regions to directly influence Ukraine’s politics has failed but the frozen conflict has drained Kiev’s resources and effectively stymied its goal of joining NATO – which is enshrined in the Ukrainian constitution.

Moscow also has worked to secure its hold on the rebel regions by handing out more than 720,000 Russian passports to roughly one-fifth of their population of about 3.6 million. It has provided economic and financial assistance to the separatist territories, but the aid has been insufficient to alleviate the massive damage from fighting and shore up the economy. The Donbas region accounted for about 16% of Ukraine´s GDP before the conflict.

EFFORTS TO REVIVE PEACE DEAL

Amid soaring tensions over the Russian troop concentration near Ukraine, France and Germany embarked on renewed efforts to encourage compliance with the 2015 deal, in hopes that it could help defuse the current standoff.

Facing calls from Berlin and Paris for its implementation, Ukrainian officials have strengthened their criticism of the Minsk deal and warned that it could lead to the country’s demise. Two rounds of talks in Paris and Berlin between presidential envoys from Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany have yielded no progress.

The lower house of the Russian parliament, meanwhile, urged Putin last week to recognize the independence of Ukraine’s rebel regions.

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Source: dailymail

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