Europe is preparing for further conflict as the crisis in Ukraine worsens

Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) – Ukraine has called on its citizens to leave Russia, and Europe is preparing for further confrontation on Wednesday after tensions …

Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) – Ukraine has called on its citizens to leave Russia, and Europe prepared for further confrontation on Wednesday after tensions escalated when the Russian leader was allowed to use military force outside his country and the West responded with a series of sanctions.

Hopes for a diplomatic exit from a new, potentially devastating war were virtually dashed when the United States and key European allies accused Moscow on Tuesday of crossing the red line to cross Ukraine’s border into separatist regions, and some called it an invasion.

The top US diplomat canceled a meeting with his Russian counterpart; Kyiv recalled its ambassador and considered severing all diplomatic ties with Moscow; dozens of countries have further pushed Russian oligarchs and banks out of international markets; Germany has stopped a lucrative pipeline deal; and the United States sent additional troops to NATO’s eastern flank, which borders Russia.

After weeks of trying to project calm, Ukrainian authorities on Wednesday said they were raising concerns. The Foreign Ministry advised not to go to Russia and advised everyone to leave immediately, saying that Moscow’s “aggression” could lead to a significant reduction in consular services.

The head of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine called for a nationwide state of emergency – subject to parliamentary approval. Alexei Danilov said that the regional authorities will determine what measures to apply, but they may include additional protection for public facilities, restriction of traffic, additional inspection of transport and documents.

The threat of war has already destroyed Ukraine’s economy and caused mass casualties, energy shortages across Europe and global economic chaos.

Even as the conflict took a new, dangerous turn, leaders warned it could still get worse. Russian President Vladimir Putin has not yet released a force of 150,000 troops assembled from three sides of Ukraine, while US President Joe Biden has refrained from even tougher sanctions that could cause economic turmoil for Russia, but said they will move forward. if there is further aggression. .

German Foreign Minister Analena Burbock on Wednesday called the European Union’s sanctions agreed the day before only a “first step” and said further action could follow. Sanctions are key because the West has ruled out military action against Russia.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba urged Western leaders not to wait.

“We urge partners to impose more sanctions on Russia,” he wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. “Now we need to increase the pressure to stop Putin. Impressed by his economy and allies. Hit more. Hit hard. Strike now. “

Responding demonstratively to the steps already taken, Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov in a statement on Facebook retorted that “sanctions will not solve anything.” “It is difficult to imagine that there is a person in Washington who expects Russia to reconsider its foreign policy under the threat of restrictions.”

In eastern Ukraine, where an eight-year conflict between Russian-backed insurgents and Ukrainian forces has killed nearly 14,000 people, violence has also intensified. One Ukrainian serviceman was killed and six others were injured in insurgent shelling, the Ukrainian military said. Separatist officials reported several explosions on their territory at night, killing three civilians.

Since last Friday, when separatist leaders in Donetsk and Luhansk regions announced a mass evacuation to Russia, more than 96,000 residents of separatist areas have crossed the Russian border.

After weeks of rising tensions this week, Putin has taken a number of steps that have sharply raised the stakes. First, he recognized the independence of these separatist regions. Then he said that the recognition extends even to most of the territories that are now in the hands of Ukrainian forces, including the major port of the Sea of ​​Azov Mariupol.

Finally, he asked for and received permission to use military force outside the country, which effectively formalized the deployment of Russian troops in rebel regions.

However, Putin suggested that there is a way out of the crisis by setting out three conditions: he called on Kyiv to recognize Russia’s sovereignty over Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014, to renounce its NATO bid and partially demilitarize.

But it was unclear whether there was in fact room for diplomacy, as the first two demands had previously been rejected by Ukraine and the West as non-initial.

The Russian leader remained vague when asked if he had sent any Russian troops to Ukraine and how far they could go, and separatist leader in Donetsk Denis Pushylin said on Wednesday that there were currently no Russian troops in the region.

Pushylin’s remarks contradict those of Vladislav Brig, a member of the local separatist council in Donetsk, who told reporters on Tuesday that Russian troops had already entered. Late Monday late, columns of armored vehicles rolled through separatist-controlled areas. It was not immediately clear whether they were Russian.

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Litvinova reported from Moscow. Jim Heinz in Kiev; Angela Charlton in Paris; Frank Jordans in Berlin; Aamer Madhani, Eric Tucker, Ellen Nickmeyer, Robert Burns, Matthew Lee, Zick Miller, Chris Megerian and Darlene Superville of Washington contributed to this report.

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Follow the coverage of the Ukrainian crisis of the AP at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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