The past 24 hours in the war zone
Regular Russian military columns entered occupied areas of eastern Ukraine held by Russian-controlled militant formations since 2014. Putin instructed the Russian Ministry of Defense to ensure that the Russian Armed Forces perform the functions of maintaining peace in the “republics” before concluding agreements with the “LNR” and “DNR.”
As of 8 p.m. 21 February 2022, the Russian occupational forces violated the ceasefire regime 59 times, including 48 times with the use of armament prohibited by Minsk agreements.
- 5 servicemen of the armed forces of Ukraine were wounded in action
- 1 serviceman of the armed forces of Ukraine was killed in action
- 1 civilian man was killed by the enemy shelling of residential districts in Novoluhansk
- 32 settlements of Donetsk and Luhansk regions were shelled
Russian media continues disseminating fakes to base accusations against the Ukrainian military. This includes completely fabricated stories about an Ukrainian sabotage group of 5 soldiers and two armored vehicles allegedly “liquidated” by Russian borders guards and a story about the alleged shelling of a Russian border guard facility from the Ukrainian side – an attack Ukraine could not technically conduct according to the Conflict Intelligence Team.
Quick Ukraine news
- Ukraine has requested an urgent meeting of the United Nations Security Council due to Russia’s illegal actions.
- Ukraine has requested an urgent meeting of the OSCE SMM and insisted on the full work of the mission to prevent provocations.
- Immediately after Putin’s decision to recognize the L/DNR proxy republics, Ukrainian president Zelenskyy held talks with the US president Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Shortly before Putin’s decision was announced Zelenskyy talked with French president Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. No details or agreements have been reported yet.
- All members of the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council are at their positions, working 24/7, Secretary of the Security and Defense council Oleksiy Danilov reported shortly after Putin announced his decision to recognize L/DNR proxy republics.
Putin recognized the independence of occupied Donbas in a video which Latvia’s Foreign Minister called “an hour of imperialism and chauvinism”
During the speech Putin not only announced his decision to recognize L/DNR proxy republics in occupied Donbas but also lectured on a revisionist history, claiming that Ukrainian nation and state were artificially created by Lenin and “are part of Russian history.” He also questioned the existence of Ukraine as a state calling it “a colony led by a puppet regime” and threatened Ukraine with the “real decommunization.”
Putin sends Russian regular army troops to Donbas
Multiple local sources confirmed on social media the movement of military columns through Donetsk and Luhansk during or immediately after Putin’s TV address.
Russian troops entering Donbas mean that Donbas is now occupied not by “Russian-led militants,” but openly by the Russian regular army. Putin’s decree presents the decision to deploy troops to Donbas as a “peacekeeping function.” Interestingly, Putin’s decree today on the recognition of Luhansk and Donetsk people’s republics is almost identical to the 2008 decree on the recognition of Georgian South Ossetia that also had been occupied by Russian troops:
Ukraine held urgent meeting of the Security and Defense council, Zelenskyy address to Ukrainians followed
During his address, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine highlighted that “Ukraine unequivocally qualifies Russia’s actions as a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” He also stressed that Russia’s recognition of occupied parts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts “may equate to Russia’s unilateral withdrawal from the Minsk agreements.”
With its decision today, Russia legalized its troops that have been de-facto deployed in the occupied areas of the Donbas since 2014. Zelenskyy initiated the UN Security Council meeting, a special meeting of the OSCE, and consultations on the basis of the Budapest Memorandum. Ukraine insists on the full work of the OSCE SMM “to prevent provocations… We expect clear and effective steps of support from our partners,” he said.
The White House responds with limited sanctions
The White House press statement says the US will:
“prohibit new investment, trade, and financing by US persons to, from, or in the so-called DNR and LNR regions of Ukraine. This [Executive Order] will also provide authority to impose sanctions on any person determined to operate in those areas of Ukraine…
To be clear: these measures are separate from, and would be in addition to, the swift and severe economic measures we have been preparing in coordination with Allies and partners should Russia further invade Ukraine.”
Biden has already signed an Executive Order imposing these sanctions. These are not the sanctions against Russian state officials, Russian banks, or financial markets that were previously threatened in case of “further Russian invasion of Ukraine.”
The EU says ministers will decide about sanctions
The EU would impose sanctions if Russia annexed its proxy statelets in eastern Ukraine. Since Russia formally has recognized them only as independent, the EU will decide what sanctions should be applied. This follows from the statement of Josep Borrell:
“If there is annexation, there will be sanctions. And if there is a recognition, I will put sanctions on the table and ministers will make a decision.”
Liz Truss also wrote that:
“Tomorrow [On 22 February] we will be announcing new sanctions on Russia in response to their breach of international law and attack on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Ukraine officially requests security guarantees according to the Budapest Memorandum
On President Zelenskyy’s initiative, Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba officially requested UNSC member states
“to immediately hold consultations under article 6 of the Budapest memorandum to discuss urgent actions aimed at de-escalation, as well as practical steps to guarantee the security of Ukraine.”
The move follows Zelenskyy’s speech at the Munich Security Conference on 19 February, when the President of Ukraine stated Ukraine is demanding to convene consultations in the framework of the Budapest Memorandum for the fourth time. If the parties to the memorandum fail to guarantee Ukraine’s security,
“Ukraine will have every right to believe that the Budapest Memorandum is not working and all the package decisions of 1994 are in doubt.”
He also hinted that if European states don’t fulfill their security agreements, their non-action may put into question the full security architecture:
“I want to believe that NATO and Article 5 will be more effective than the Budapest Memorandum,” said Zelenskyy in Munich.
Already 60,000 people evacuated from Donbas as Russia continues its claims about Ukrainian preparation for an offensive and sows panic among locals
Russian media reports about 60,000 evacuated from Donbas. Occupation authorities started evacuation on 18 February, claiming that Ukraine is preparing to invade Donbas. Ukrainian authorities ridiculed this claim in the face of Russian military build-up around the borders which makes any offensive impossible. The Ukrainian president, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Minister of Defense have stated many times that Ukraine exclusively considers only peaceful ways for the deoccupation of Donbas and Crimea.
German FM Baerbok accused the Russian leadership of irresponsibly playing with the lives of people:
“This game the Russian government is playing with… people in the occupied territories on both sides [of the demarcation line], is irresponsible.”
Russia keeps forging false-flag pretexts for a possible invasion of Ukraine
RIA Novosti reported on Telegram that “At 9:50 in the morning, an artillery shell fired from Ukraine completely destroyed the Russian border checkpoint in the Rostov Oblast 150 meters away from the border. No one was injured (FSB).”
The video was shared allegedly showing a building belonging to Russian border infrastructure destroyed by a projectile that flew from Ukraine. Ukraine’s border guards said in their press brief it is an outright fake since the Ukrainian army has no reason to shell Russian territory.
Видео от ФСБ, на котором, по версии ведомства, показано относящееся к пограничной инфраструктуре здание, разрушенное снарядом, прилетевшим со стороны границы с Украиной. На кадрах не видно никакой инфраструктуры, кроме разрушенного одноэтажного строения в окружении деревьев. pic.twitter.com/EQcoX6RHEa
— РБК (@ru_rbc) February 21, 2022
According to Conflict Intelligence Team experts, the distance between the front line and the ruined building is 37 kilometers. It’s impossible to precisely destroy such a small building with the weapons the Ukrainian army has. Also shelling would cause substantial damage to the nearby area, which pictures and videos provided by Russian media do not show, the Babel reports.
The Hybrid Warfare Analytic group has prepared a summary of Putin’s hour-long speech
In his address, Putin has not just formally announced the decision to recognize the proxy states, but has also:
- portrayed Ukraine as a historical mistake with no tradition or right to sovereignty, claiming that it was, in full, “created by the USSR” and “Lenin was an architect of Ukraine”;
- threatened Ukraine with “showing real decommunization,” hinting of an attack on its existence as it rejects the Soviet legacy;
- promoted the image of Ukraine as a “failed state” under a colonizing “external governance”;
- insisted Ukraine poses a military and terrorist threat against Russia, particularly in Crimea;
- repeated the message about NATO “deploying military bases in Ukraine” to threaten Russia;
- positioned Ukraine’s intention to join NATO as a “direct threat to Russian security”;
- blamed the West for undermining Russia’s sovereignty;
- promoted propagandistic fakes about “Ukraine’s genocide against Donbas”; and,
- called to ratify the agreements on friendship and mutual assistance with the so-called “republics.”
A rally in support of Russian political prisoners
A rally, “Crimea, 5:00 AM,” in support of Ukrainian political prisoners held by Russia in Crimea took place near the Russian Embassy in Kyiv today on Monday, February 21st. The rally name refers to 5:00 AM as it is typically the time when Crimean Tatars usually face illegal armed searches in their homes. As part of the rally, activists also installed 11 broken doors in front of the embassy – a symbol of broken lives. Similar rally events are planned to be held in Berlin and Warsaw.
Refat Chubarov, leader of the Crimean Tatar national movement in Ukraine, Taras Topolia, front man of the popular Ukrainian band Antytila participated in the rally among others including the soloists of the Dakh Daughters band, Natalia Galanevych and Anna Nikitina.