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Russia-Ukraine live updates: U.S. prepares fresh sanctions on Kremlin as escalation is blasted at U.N.

The United States and its allies are gearing up to impose a fresh set of sanctions on Russia Tuesday after Moscow formally recognized two breakaway enclaves in eastern Ukraine and sent so-called peacekeeping troops there Monday, in a move that the West fears could create a pretext for a wider invasion of Kyiv.

Russia’s maneuvers appeared to be increasingly out of step with world opinion, and were sharply rebuked by several nations at a hastily convened meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Monday night. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of wanting the world to “travel back in time to a time before the United Nations — to a time when empires ruled the world,” and testing the international rules-based system.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told his countrymen early Tuesday that “we will give up nothing to no one” and that Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders “will stay that way, despite any statements or actions taken by the Russian Federation.”

Here’s what to know

  • President Biden signed an executive order Monday blocking trade and investment by Americans in two separatist enclaves of Ukraine. Administration officials said additional measures — including more sanctions — would be announced Tuesday, separate to the strict measures promised if Russia further invades Ukraine.
  • The State Department moved its personnel from Ukraine to Poland on Monday amid fears of Russia’s “plans for an invasion at any moment,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.
  • Beijing continues to walk a tightrope of supporting Russia without outright endorsing its actions in Ukraine, with China’s ambassador to the United Nations calling on all parties involved to “seek reasonable solutions” and address concerns based on “equality and mutual respect.”

2:45 AM: Wielding the threat of war, a new, more aggressive Putin steps forward

He is the man with the very long table who seats world leaders and ministers at an almost comical distance. He is a lone figure in a dark coat laying a wreath at a cemetery in St. Petersburg or sitting solo in his Olympic viewing booth in Beijing. He is aging, isolated, more powerful than ever, and on the brink of waging a possibly catastrophic war.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in the 22 years since he first took office, has evolved from an afterthought of Washington leaders to the world’s most watched and pleaded-with man, using reconstituted Russian military might to force the globe to reckon with his interests after having complained for years about being ignored.

His latest belligerence follows two years of pandemic isolation and eight years of Western sanctions that analysts say have fed the bunker mentality Putin has exhibited since his earliest years.

2:16 AM: Japan says ready to join sanctions effort in case of Russian invasion

TOKYO — Japan stands ready with its Western allies to impose sanctions on Russia in case of a renewed invasion of Ukraine, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Tuesday.

Kishida declined to specify which sanctions are under consideration, but Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported Tuesday that the country is weighing an export ban that includes semiconductors, artificial intelligence and robot technology, in addition to restrictions on Russian banks.

The sanctions would be more wide-ranging than those Tokyo imposed in 2014 in response to Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region, though they would be largely symbolic as Japanese exports of such tech products are limited.

The United States and European countries have vowed to issue fresh economic sanctions in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s dramatic escalation of the Ukraine crisis Monday, when he recognized the independence of two Moscow-backed separatist regions in eastern Ukraine and ordered in Russian “peacekeeping” forces.

Kishida said Tuesday that Japan “strongly condemns” Russia’s actions, calling them a “violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

“We will warily watch over the developing situation and will work with G-7 and the international community to arrange a response, including sanctions,” he said.

Kishida plans to attend Thursday’s virtual meeting of leaders of the Group of Seven nations to discuss the Ukraine crisis, and he has called for a diplomatic solution. Japan has repeatedly asked the roughly 120 Japanese nationals in Ukraine to evacuate the country.

1:46 AM: Global markets swoon after Putin move against Ukraine

Global stock markets fell sharply after Russia said it would formally recognize two breakaway regions of Ukraine and ordered its troops into them for so-called peacekeeping purposes, while the prices of oil and safe-haven assets such as gold rose.

In Asia, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific equities, excluding Japan, was down 2 percent as of midday local time Tuesday, on the back of falls in Hong Kong and mainland China. Japan’s Nikkei Index was down by a similar amount.

U.S. markets were shut Monday for a holiday, but S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures fell Tuesday morning in Asia, while the Russian ruble briefly touched an 18-month low against the U.S. dollar. In contrast, Brent crude oil futures touched a seven-year high, while gold was trading near its highest level in months.

Markets often shrug off major geopolitical conflicts, but investors have been keeping a wary eye on the standoff given Russia’s role as one of the world’s biggest energy producers.

Vice President Harris warned Sunday that Americans could see their energy costs rise if Russia invades Ukraine. Russia is one of the largest exporters of oil to the United States, according to government data.

Administration officials said the United States is likely to announce additional measures — including sanctions — against Russia Tuesday after President Biden signed an executive order Monday halting investment and trade by Americans into rebel-held areas of eastern Ukraine.

By: Rachel Pannett

1:31 AM: Putin orders troops into newly recognized separatist regions

Russian President Vladimir Putin, after recognizing two Russian-backed separatist regions in Ukraine as independent, ordered Russian forces into the territories for “peacekeeping” purposes, dramatically escalating a crisis that has put Europe on the brink of a full-fledged war.

In two Russian presidential orders published by the state news agency RIA Novosti, Putin ordered the Russian Defense Ministry to ensure the deployment of the Russian military into the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic for the purposes of “supporting peace.” Troops have been amassing near the Ukrainian border for weeks.

Putin approved the agreements for 10 years, according to the full document published by RIA Novosti, allowing Russia to build military bases in Donetsk and Luhansk and jointly patrol their borders with Ukraine.

Despite fueling a war in the regions since 2014, the Kremlin has long denied that regular Russian forces are aiding the separatist fighters, though their presence has been documented by the Ukrainian and U.S. governments for many years.

The decision to openly deploy Russian forces into the territories — which have seen a significant rise in violence in recent days — further raises the risk of a full-scale war in Ukraine. If Russian troops die and the Kremlin blames Ukrainian forces, such an incident could be used as a pretext for a broader invasion of Ukraine by the Russian military.

By: Paul Sonne and Mary Ilyushina

1:31 AM: World leaders accuse Putin of breaching international law

World leaders have roundly condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin for breaching international law and violating Ukraine’s sovereignty following his announcement Monday to recognize the independence of Luhansk and Donetsk, two Russian-backed separatist areas in Ukraine’s Donbas region.

The breakaway regions are at the heart of the crisis between Ukraine and Russia; Western leaders have feared Russia would recognize them as independent of Ukraine to create a pretext for invasion.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement the Biden administration will respond swiftly, having anticipated this move from Russia.

“President Biden will soon issue an Executive Order that will prohibit new investment, trade, and financing by U.S. persons to, from, or in the so-called DNR and LNR regions of Ukraine,” Psaki said. She noted the measures are separate from and would be in addition to the “swift and severe economic measures” the United States has already coordinated with its allies.

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission — the executive branch of the European Union — called Putin’s recognition of the breakaway territories a “blatant violation of international law” and other agreements, and said swift sanctions against Russia will follow.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson signaled Britain’s willingness to hold off on imposing sanctions for now, but said Putin’s move was a repudiation of the Minsk agreements.

“I think it’s a very ill omen and a very dark sign,” Johnson said Monday.

Latvia’s foreign ministry in a tweet blasted Putin’s move as a “continuation of the attack on [Ukrainian] independence, sovereignty & territorial integrity” and said it would deliver Javelin antitank missiles to Ukraine on Tuesday.

The sentiments were echoed by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who called sanctions against Russia “the only language Putin understands.”

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg pointed the finger at Moscow for escalating the conflict and urged Russia to “choose diplomacy.”

Earlier Monday, the United Nations announced Secretary General António Guterres was canceling his mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo and returning to New York in light of the “deteriorating” situation in Ukraine.

Putin’s announcement came shortly after Russia’s Security Council on Monday called for him to recognize the breakaway territories, which since 2014 have self-declared as the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic.

Neither territory has been recognized by the United States or other world powers; the Ukrainian government considers the republics to be terrorist organizations.

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