Putin Issues Demands for Resolving Ukraine Crisis

Ukraine leader calls up military reservists
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 22, 2022 8:30 PM CST
Biden, Putin Signal Bigger Confrontation Ahead
In this photo provided by the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, lawmakers listen to the national anthem as they attend a session in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022.   (Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation via AP)

The East-West faceoff over Ukraine escalated dramatically Tuesday, with Russian lawmakers authorizing President Vladimir Putin to use military force outside his country and President Joe Biden and European leaders slapping sanctions on Russian oligarchs and banks. Both leaders signaled that an even bigger confrontation could lie ahead. Putin has yet to unleash the force of the 150,000 troops massed on three sides of Ukraine, while Biden held back on even tougher sanctions that could cause economic turmoil for Russia but said they would go ahead if there is further aggression, the AP reports. The measures came as Russian forces rolled into rebel-held areas in eastern Ukraine after Putin said he was recognizing the independence of the separatist regions in defiance of US and European demands.

Members of Russia's upper house, the Federation Council, voted unanimously Tuesday to allow Putin to use military force outside the country—effectively formalizing a Russian military deployment to the rebel regions, where an eight-year conflict has killed nearly 14,000 people. Shortly afterward, Putin laid out three conditions to end the crisis that has threatened to plunge Europe back into war. Putin said the crisis could be resolved if Kyiv 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." Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he would consider breaking diplomatic ties with Russia, and Kyiv 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. Zelensky said he was calling up some of the country’s military reservists but added there was no need for a full military mobilization. (The Kremlin made an ominous move connected to the breakaway Ukraine regions Tuesday.)

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