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Ukraine has declared a state of emergency as it braces for the onslaught of a Russian military invasion that is expected to begin as early as Wednesday night, which comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a last ditch effort to stave off war by making an emotional plea to the Russian people, saying that an invasion into Ukraine could “become the start of a big war on the European continent.”
The Ukrainian government announced that it is closing airports in eastern Ukraine from midnight until the morning because of how fast the situation was escalating. Zelensky announced this week that the country was starting to draft reservists aged 18-60 to serve in the country’s military in anticipation of war breaking out with Russia.
“Ukraine acted after Russia issued a ban on civilian air traffic in airspace over eastern Ukraine,” The Associated Press reported. “The announcement Wednesday night establishes buffer zones for traffic controlled by Ukrainian authorities to avoid coming into potentially hazardous conflict with air traffic controlled by Russian authorities.”
CNN confirms Russia closing airspace to civilian aircraft along North east border with Ukraine. Until May 18.
— Erin Burnett (@ErinBurnett) February 24, 2022
Democrat President Joe Biden tried to appear tough by announcing sanctions against Russia for recognizing the independence of two separatist regions of Ukraine, but they “hit markets with a whimper and were quickly criticized as limited in scope,” Bloomberg News reported. “Instead of a sweeping package that crippled top Russian banks, cut its financial transactions off from the global economy, or personally singled out President Vladimir Putin, the U.S. and its allies settled on a modest ‘first tranche’ of penalties. Markets responded with a shrug.”
The Kremlin claimed on Wednesday that the leaders of the two separatist regions of Ukraine asked for Putin’s help in fighting Ukraine’s military, a sign that some analysts say might be what sparks Russia’s military invasion.
The news comes as Russia has up to 190,000 troops amassed near the Ukraine border along with scores of tanks, heavy artillery, and Naval vessels. A U.S. official said on Wednesday that approximately 80% of Russia’s forces had moved into an attack position and that the invasion could kick off at any moment.
“We all thought we were looking at a Europe whole, free and at peace indefinitely,” said Michele Flournoy, who served as the Pentagon’s top policy official during the Obama administration. “We knew that Russia would conduct gray zone operations and that Putin would use his KGB playbook to create instability on his periphery. But a wholesale invasion of a sovereign country to reorient its government is a different moment.”
“And we’re seeing that while Beijing doesn’t really like Putin’s tactics, they’re willing to band together as authoritarian states against the Western democracies,” Flournoy continued. “We are going to see more and more of that in the future.”
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