UN chief Antonio Guterres has dismissed Russia’s plans to send troops to eastern Ukraine as “not peacekeepers at all”, as Western nations imposed stinging sanctions against Moscow, including measures that would aim to starve the country of financing.
Guterres said Russia’s moves to recognize the two separatist regions in eastern Ukraine violated the country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and called for an immediate ceasefire.
“We need restraint and reason,” he said. “We need to de-escalate now.”
Announcing what he said was the “first tranche” of sanctions – targeting Russia’s sovereign debt, financial institutions and “elites” – US President Joe Biden said Russia’s deployment of troops amounted to the “beginning of an invasion”.
The United Kingdom also imposed sanctions on Russian banks and high net worth individuals, while Germany halted the approval process for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project.
Here are the latest updates:
Canada announces sanctions on Russia, deploys troops to Latvia
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced a first set of sanctions on Russia.
Under the plan, Canadians will be banned from engaging in purchases of Russian sovereign debt, and from all financial dealings with the rebel areas of Luhansk and Donetsk.
Canada will also sanction members of the Russian parliament who voted for the decision to recognize Donetsk and Luhansk as independent.
Two state-backed Russian banks will also be subject to additional sanctions.
Trudeau is also sending more Canadian troops to eastern Europe, with as many as 460 members of the Canadian Armed Forces, mostly to Latvia.
He said Putin’s order to send troops into eastern Ukraine was “a clear incursion” of sovereignty.
“Make no mistake: this is a further invasion of a sovereign state and it is absolutely unacceptable,” he said, adding it was “not too late” for Russia to seek a diplomatic resolution.
Satellite images show new military activity
The US company Maxar Technologies has released a series of new satellite images, which appear to show a fresh deployment of more than 100 military vehicles and dozens of troop tents in southern Belarus near the Ukraine border.
The images also included what Maxar said was a new field hospital, which has been added to a military garrison in western Russia near the border.
‘The time for sanctions is now,’: Ukraine foreign minister
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has welcomed the US sanctions against Russian banks, calling on the world to use “all its economic might to punish Russia”.
Speaking alongside Blinken, Kuleba accused Putin of killing the Minsk Agreement that aimed to restore peace in eastern Ukraine with his recognition of the two breakaway Ukrainian regions.
Russia’s move is a grave breach of international law and a new act of aggression against Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Therefore, Ukraine strongly believes that the time for sanctions is now, ”he said.
‘Not peacekeepers at all’: UN chief condemns Russia troop plan
United Nations chief Antonio Guterres has rejected Russian claims that troops deployed to eastern Ukraine will be “peacekeepers”.
“When troops of one country enter the territory of another country without its consent, they are not impartial peacekeepers. They are not peacekeepers at all, ”the UN secretary-general told reporters in New York.
Guterres also dismissed Russia’s claims of a genocide taking place against ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine.
“I do not think it is the case,” he said.
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the Ukraine-Russia crisis.
I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.
Read all the updates from Tuesday, February 22, here.