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LIVE UPDATES: Russia Establishes Diplomatic Relations With Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics

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On Monday, amid rapidly deteriorating tensions in Donbass, with Kiev's forces intensifying shelling against local settlements, Russia announced its recognition of the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics and ordered to deploy a peacekeeping mission in Donbass.
The situation in Donbass remains tense with Ukrainian forces building up in the region.
Following an appeal from the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics, Moscow recognised them as independent nations. President Vladimir Putin noted the move should have occurred "long ago", and also urged Kiev to "immediately stop hostilities" in the region, saying that otherwise, the Ukrainian regime would be responsible for any possible bloodshed.
The recognition prompted a response from an array of Western countries, including the US and the UK, threatening to impose sanctions against Russia. The White House said it will announce a new round of sanctions during the day.
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03:50 GMT 23.02.2022
Western Sanctions Will Have US Citizens Feeling 'Full Consequences of Rising Prices - Russian Ambassador
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02:49 GMT 23.02.2022
Terrorist Attack Occurs in Lugansk - LPR Representative Office in JCCC
LUGANSK (Sputnik) - An explosion occurred at a trolleybus depot in the city of Lugansk in the Lugansk People's Republic (LPR), the LPR representative office in the Joint Center for Control and Coordination of the ceasefire regime (JCCC) said in a statement.
"Another terrorist attack took place in Lugansk! At 04:15 a.m. an explosion occurred in the area of the trolleybus depot," the office said on Telegram.

No other information was immediately available.
02:20 GMT 23.02.2022
In US' Steps, Australia Announces Sanctions Against Russia
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'This is Only the Start': Australia Files Sanctions Against Russia Over Recognition of LPR, DPR
02:08 GMT 23.02.2022
Venezuela Expresses Support to Putin Amid Situation Around Ukraine - Maduro
BUENOS AIRES (Sputnik) - Venezuela expresses all its support to Russian President Vladimir Putin amid the situation around Ukraine and supports the search for diplomatic solutions, President Nicolas Maduro said.

“We watched the events in Russia and Ukraine, but not only now, we watched the US and NATO want to do away with Russia militarily, stop it and end this multipolar world… Venezuela will always be with Putin and Russia… All support to President Putin, all support to Russia," he said.

"We declare our support to all dialogue initiatives and the search for diplomatic solutions," he said.
01:51 GMT 23.02.2022
Ukrainian Armed Forces Violated Ceasefire Regime 114 Times in Past Day - LPR Office in JCCC
LUGANSK (Sputnik) - The Ukrainian Armed Forces have violated the ceasefire regime 114 times in the past day in the Lugansk People's Republic (LPR), the LPR office in the Joint Center for Control and Coordination of the ceasefire regime (JCCC) said in a statement.
"A total of 114 violations of the ceasefire regime by Ukrainian armed units have been recorded over the past day on February 22, 2022," the office said.
01:29 GMT 23.02.2022
Better Solution on Ukraine Nukes Was Maybe Possible If Not for US-Russia Pressure - Kuleba
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said a more reasonable solution on the issue of Ukrainian nuclear weapons could have been found if not for joint pressure from the United States and Russia.

"At that time, a smarter decision could have been found if the United States together with Russia hadn't taken a joint position to deprive Ukraine of its nuclear weapons," Kuleba said during a Fox News interview on Tuesday when asked if it was wrong move for Ukraine to give up its nuclear weapons.

In 1994, Ukraine agreed to eliminate nuclear weapons from its territory and to join the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty.
Asked whether Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will remain with the people of Ukraine if the situation escalates in the country, the foreign minister remarked that the president "will always stay with the people of Ukraine."
01:14 GMT 23.02.2022
Japan Imposes Visa Sanctions Against Donetsk, Lugansk Officials - Prime Minister
TOKYO (Sputnik) - Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Japan is imposing sanctions over Russia's recognition of the Donetsk and Lugansk people's republics (DPR and LPR).
"Our country has decided to impose the following sanctions: stopping the issuance of visas to representatives of the two republics and freezing capitals, a ban on export-import relations with these two republics, the placement and operations with the new sovereign debt of the Russian government in our country. Next, we will decide on the details of these measures and will carry out the necessary procedures without delay," Kishida said.
00:36 GMT 23.02.2022
US Senate Majority Leader Requests Administration Brief Senate on Ukraine Crisis - Reports
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23:44 GMT 22.02.2022
Russian Envoy to Ottawa Says Meeting With Canadian Officials 'Was Political Demarche'
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23:40 GMT 22.02.2022
US Sanctions Will Not Affect VEB's Commitment to Its Mission - State Corporation
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The US sanctions will not affect the fulfillment by Russia's VEB of its mission to develop the Russian economy, the state corporation will continue to fulfill its obligations and will protect its rights and legitimate interests, VEB told Sputnik.

Earlier, the US Department of the Treasury imposed sanctions on Russian financial institutions VEB and Promsvyazbank, as well as 42 of their subsidiaries.
"Despite increased pressure, VEB will continue to improve its financial stability and operational efficiency, properly fulfill its obligations, and use all available means to protect its rights and legitimate interests," the state corporation said, adding that the US restrictions will not affect VEB's efforts to develop Russia's economy and improve the well-being of its citizens.
23:05 GMT 22.02.2022
Canada Deploying Additional 460 Troops to Eastern Europe Amid Ukraine Tensions - Trudeau
TORONTO (Sputnik) - Canada will deploy up to 460 additional troops to Eastern Europe amid escalating tension following Russia’s recognition of the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
"Today, I am authorizing a deployment of up to 460 members of the Canadian Armed Forces to Operation Reassurance," Trudeau told a news conference on Tuesday.

The deployment will include added troops in Latvia as well as the movement of a Canadian frigate and patrol aircraft to the region, Trudeau said.
23:02 GMT 22.02.2022
Explosive Device Detonated Near Donetsk TV Center, No Injuries Reported
DONETSK (Sputnik) - An explosive device detonated on the territory of a television center in the city of Donetsk in the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), acting DPR Information Minister Daniil Bezsonov told Sputnik.

“The explosion occurred at about 0:50. The explosive device, most likely homemade, was without damaging elements. But there was a considerable amount of explosive substance... I admit that this is as a warning to journalists that there may be subsequent terrorist attacks, directed against journalists," Bezsonov said.

He said no one was injured as a result of the powerful blast.
23:00 GMT 22.02.2022
Putin-Biden Summit ‘Certainly Not in Plans’ at This Point – White House
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - A summit between US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin is "certainly not in the plans" now amid escalated tensions over Ukraine, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said during a press briefing.

"At this point, that is certainly not in the plans," Psaki told reporters when asked if a meeting between Biden and Putin was still possible.
22:12 GMT 22.02.2022
UN Chief Says World Facing Biggest Global Security Crisis in Recent Years Over Ukraine
UNITED NATIONS (Sputnik) - UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the world is facing the biggest global peace and security crisis in recent years as the situation in eastern Ukraine continues to escalate.

“I have cut short an overseas visit – including a very important summit of African leaders - to rush back to UN headquarters,” Guterres said on Tuesday. “Our world is facing the biggest global peace and security crisis in recent years – certainly in my tenure as Secretary-General. We face a moment that I sincerely hoped would not come.”
The secretary-general further noted that Russia's recognition on Monday of the LPR and DPR are effectively a "death blow" to the Minsk agreements, the same which Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier remarked were previously trashed by Ukrainian authorities.
"It is a death blow to the Minsk Agreements endorsed by the Security Council. The principles of the UN Charter are not an a la carte menu. They cannot be applied selectively," Guterres said, adding that the Russian recognition is a "violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine."

Guterres added, "Such a unilateral measure conflicts directly with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations - and is inconsistent with the so-called Friendly Relations Declaration of the General Assembly which the International Court of Justice has repeatedly cited as representing international law."
22:02 GMT 22.02.2022
Blinken Calls Off Thursday Meeting With Lavrov
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21:26 GMT 22.02.2022
SWIFT Not Targeted in Initial Sanctions Against Russia, But Option Not Off Table - US Official
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Russia’s access to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) payment system is not targeted in the first package of sanctions rolled out by the United States and its European allies in response to the recognition of the two breakaway republics in eastern Ukraine but the option is not off the table, a senior Biden administration official said.

"SWIFT is not part of the first package of sanctions that we’ve rolled out," the official said during a press briefing on Tuesday. "But we are not taking SWIFT off the table, it will remain an option that we can deploy depending on how Russia makes its next move."
21:13 GMT 22.02.2022
Blinken to Make Announcement Tuesday About Meeting With Lavrov - Senior US Official
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will make an announcement later in the day about a potential meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Thursday, a senior Biden administration official said during a press briefing.

"With respect to the potential discussions between Secretary Blinken and Minister Lavrov, I would just refer you to the State Department. Secretary Blinken is about to give remarks and I think we'll have more to say on that," the official said on Tuesday.
20:59 GMT 22.02.2022
Zelensky: No Need for Total Military Mobilization in Ukraine
KIEV (Sputnik) - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Tuesday that the country does not need a total military mobilization at the moment, adding that reservists will be conscripted as the military is understaffed.

"Today, there is no need for a total mobilization. We need to quickly make the Ukrainian army and other military formations complete. I, as the supreme commander of the armed forces of Ukraine, issued a decree on calling up reservists during a special period. I emphasize that we are talking exclusively about citizens included in the operational reserve," Zelensky said in a video address.
20:48 GMT 22.02.2022
US Defense Chief Orders 800 Troops, 20 Helicopters to Baltic Region - Reports
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered 800 troops and 20 AH-64 helicopters already in Europe to the Baltic region amid increasing tensions surrounding the situation between Russia and Ukraine, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

The force movement authorization came as a response to Russia’s decision to retain troops in Belarus, President Joe Biden said during remarks at the White House. The US will also continue to provide defensive assistance to Ukraine, Biden added.

The US is also sending eight F-35s from Germany to NATO’s eastern flank and 12 Apache helicopters from Greece to Poland, according to media reports.
19:27 GMT 22.02.2022
Biden Announces New Sanctions on Russia
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Biden Announces 'First Tranche' of Sanctions Targeting Russia's Sovereign Debt, State Dev. Banks
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