Biden-Putin meeting off as tensions mount over Ukraine invasion plans

A proposed meeting between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin is “certainly is not in the plans” anymore, the White House’s spokesperson has said.
Jen Psaki added that tensions over the planned invasion of Ukraine would have to ease before such a meeting took place.
It came at the end of a day when Mr Putin’s decision to send troops into Ukraine’s disputed regions drew condemnation across the globe.
Ukraine key developments:
• US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has cancelled a meeting with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, which had been planned for Thursday in Geneva• UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Russian troops sent into Luhansk and Donetsk “are not peacekeepers at all”.• UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK was sanctioning five Russian banks and three oligarchs, freezing their UK assets and banning travel to Britain• The EU issued sanctions aimed at 351 Russian politicians who voted to recognise the breakaway regions• Australia, Canada, Japan, and Germany were also among the countries to announce sanctions on Russia

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‘This is the beginning of a Russian invasion’
Also on Tuesday, US President Joe Biden announced the first wave of sanctions against Russia, affecting Russian banks, oligarchs, and the country’s sovereign debt.
He told reporters that Russian troops being ordered to eastern Ukraine after Mr Putin recognised the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk marked the “beginning of an invasion”.

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At the same time, new satellite pictures from space technology company Maxar showed several fresh Russian troop and equipment deployments in western Russia and more than 100 military vehicles at a small airfield in southern Belarus, which borders Ukraine.
NATO members, including the US and UK, have been moving troops to allied countries near Ukraine such as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland in recent weeks.

Image: Russian military vehicles at V D Bolshoy Bokov airfield, near Mazyr, Belarus, 22 February, 2022 Pic: Maxar Technologies
Vladimir Putin is expected to lay a wreath at Moscow’s Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier today as the current generation of troops contemplates a full-blown war in Ukraine.
The Russian president will mark Defender Of The Fatherland Day, which is intended to honour military service personnel, marking the date in 1918 of the first mass draft into the Red Army.
Read more: How strong is NATO’s position in eastern Europe?

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On the frontline in Donbas
On Tuesday, Russian legislators gave President Putin permission to use armed forces abroad – a possible sign that a broader attack on Ukraine is imminent.
But he has yet to unleash the full strength of up to 190,000 troops he has amassed on three sides of Ukraine.
Mr Biden has not yet used the full extent of sanction power available to him – further measures could include an export ban that would deny American technology for Russia’s industries and military, and other bans that could severely limit Russia’s ability to do business with the world.
Read more: Who are the key players in the Ukraine crisis?

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Mr Putin has laid out three conditions to end the crisis. He called for international recognition of Crimea as part of Russia, an end to Ukraine’s NATO membership bid and a halt to weapons shipments to the country.
The West condemned Crimea’s 2014 annexation as a violation of international law and has rejected permanently barring Ukraine from joining NATO.
Read more: ‘Turning up to a gunfight with a peashooter’: Johnson under fire for limited sanctions against Russia

Source : Sky News