President Vladimir Putin on Monday night ET ordered his troops into Ukraine, hours after he recognized the two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine, Donetsk and Luhansk (Moscow Recognizes Independence of Separatist Regions in Ukraine).
Former Dutch foreign minister and current vice-president of the European Commission Frans Timmermans said on Tuesday that today is “no doubt one of the darkest days of European history.”
UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said Russia had “broken international law.” He added: “Many of us were forewarning that President Putin already had an agenda. You heard that agenda in his speech last night. This is a sovereign state that has now had some of its land effectively annexed from it. This is a sovereign state that is a democratic state in Europe, all of us in Europe should worry.”
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said the EU must now “hit Russia where it hurts,” adding, “Russia is doing what it always wanted to do, take a piece of territory of Ukraine. We will respond in an appropriate way to what is happening here. It has to be appropriate sanctions, we have to keep a cool head, but we have to show that this leads to a high cost for Russia.”
The Russian move was immediately followed by a White House Executive order to impose costs for Putin’s “Action to Recognize So-Called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.”
President Biden signed the Executive Order (EO) in response to Putin’s recognition of DNR and LNR as “independent” states, stating that the action “contradicts Russia’s commitments under the Minsk agreements, refutes Russia’s claimed commitment to diplomacy, and undermines Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
The 2014 Minsk Protocol was an agreement that attempted to end the war in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. It was written in 2014 by the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine, consisting of Ukraine, the Russian Federation, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), with mediation by France and Germany. It was not recognized by the DNR or the LNR and was therefore followed by Minsk II, which was signed on 12 February 2015. Minsk II also didn’t stop the fighting, so the Western countries agreed that it would serve as the basis for any future resolution to the conflict. So that’s what the White House means by the “Minsk agreements,” essentially not really an agreement at all.
Biden stressed that “this EO is distinct from the swift and severe economic measures we are prepared to issue with Allies and partners in response to a further Russian invasion of Ukraine. We are continuing to closely consult with Ukraine and with Allies and partners on the next steps and urge Russia to immediately deescalate.”
Monday’s EO prohibits:
- New investment in the so-called DNR or LNR regions of Ukraine by a United States person, wherever located
- The importation into the United States, directly or indirectly, of any goods, services, or technology from the so-called DNR or LNR regions of Ukraine
- The exportation, reexportation, sale, or supply, directly or indirectly, from the United States, or by a United States person, wherever located, of any goods, services, or technology to the so-called DNR or LNR regions of Ukraine
- And any approval, financing, facilitation, or guarantee by a United States person, wherever located, of a transaction by a foreign person where the transaction by that foreign person would be covered by these prohibitions if performed by a United States person or within the United States.
Moscow Times reported Tuesday morning that Russian financial markets opened “in deep-red territory” in response to intense sanction fears.
Incidentally, the Russian ruble breached the symbolic 80 against the dollar bar on global markets during Putin’s Monday night’s speech, reaching 80.9 Tuesday morning. The euro was trading at 91.36.
What can you get for 80 rubles nowadays? No idea. But back in 2019, 100 rubles got you a four-pack of yogurt (about 25 rubles per cup), a loaf of bread (20 rubles), or bottled water (15 – 100 rubles).
At the UN Security Council, US envoy Linda Thomas-Greenfield said “Russia’s clear attack on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is unprovoked.” She also noted that “Putin wants the world to travel back in time. To a time before the United Nations. To a time when empires ruled the world,” she said. “But the rest of the world has moved forward. It is not 1919. It is 2022.”
French UN Ambassador Nicolas de Rivière said “Russia is choosing the path of confrontation,” and UK envoy Nicolas de Rivière added: “Russia has brought us to the brink. We urge Russia to step back.”
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Moscow is still ready for talks with Washington as the decision to recognize the independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics doesn’t affect the readiness for dialogue.
“Even in the most difficult times we said we were ready for a negotiating process,” she said, adding, “So, our position remains the same. We are ready for a negotiating process. We are always in favor of diplomacy.”
Of course they are.
The Ukrainian Permanent Representative to the UN, Serhiy Kyslytsya, told the Security Council Monday night: “It remains up to Russia to abandon its long-lasting strategy against Ukraine and re-engage in fundamental principles of peaceful relations enshrined in the UN charter. We demand from Russia to cancel the decision on recognition and return to the table of negotiations. We condemn the order to deploy additional Russian occupation troops in the territories of Ukraine. We demand immediate and complete, verifiable withdrawal of the occupation troops.”
He also said that Ukraine calls on Russia to carefully re-read the statement issued by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who called Russia’s recognition of DPR and LPR are called violations of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, contrary to the UN Charter.