MUNICH – As shelling hit towns in eastern Ukraine on Saturday and civilians boarded buses to evacuate the area, Russia took part in a dramatic performance of military theater, test-fired arrows. cruise and ballistic fire to remind the West that a conflict over Ukraine could quickly escalate.
In eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists insist, without evidence, that Ukraine is planning a large-scale offensive, separatist leaders have called on women and Children evacuate and men prepare for battle.
While Western leaders reject the notion that Ukraine would launch an attack while surrounded by Russian forces, the panic is a worrying sign of what the United States is doing. Ky warned that could be a pretext for a Russian invasion. President Biden announced on Friday that President Vladimir V. Putin has decided to invade Ukraine.
Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, flew to Munich on Saturday to assist the West in backing his threatened nation. Some observers in Washington have expressed concern that his departure from the country at this critical time could create an opportunity for Moscow, which the West believes is intent on toppling his government. Zelensky.
Mr. Zelensky made an emotional appeal to the West, saying that sanctions against Russia should start immediately and that there is no point in claiming daily that attacks are imminent. , because they’re destroying the economy. He added that no agreement should be reached with Russia that does not include his country.
“It is important that all of our partners and friends do not agree on anything behind our backs,” he said. “We are not panicking. We are very consistent that we will not respond to any provocation. “
Western leaders there showed a united front and repeatedly called for a diplomatic solution to the crisis. Vice President Kamala Harris called the crisis “a decisive moment” for European security and the defense of democratic values.
But Mr. Putin sent his own message, presiding over the nuclear-capable missile tests.
Tensions between the United States and Russia have not been this high since the Cold War, and Russia’s nuclear exercises on Saturday appeared carefully orchestrated to prevent the West from engaging directly militarily. on to Ukraine. In Munich, Ms. Harris warned that if Russia invaded Ukraine, the United States and its allies would not only target financial institutions and technology exports to Russia, but also “accomplices and those who aided and directed this gratuitous invasion.”
“Russia continues to state that it is ready for negotiations, while narrowing down diplomatic avenues,” she said. “Their actions simply don’t match their words.”
In Ukraine, shelling has escalated in the east, where Russian-backed separatists have been battling government forces for the past few days.
Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said on Saturday artillery fire had gone up along the entire length of the front line. The ministry said the shelling was nearly double the level of the previous two days.
Some intense shelling has targeted an area of government-controlled territory around the town of Svitlodarsk, a site that has worried security analysts for weeks because of its proximity to infrastructure. hazardous industries, including toxic gas tanks.
Nadya Lapygina, a resident of Staryi Aidar, one of dozens of towns affected by artillery and mortar fire on the northern border of the Luhansk breakaway region, said. “You don’t know how scary it is to hide him from shelling.”
There are also alarming signs of what American officials describe as a possible precursor to a Russian invasion. The leaders of Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine issued an appeal on Saturday for all men in the territory they control to sign up to fight.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/19/world/europe/russia-backed-rebels-in-ukraine-call-for-taking-up-arms.html President Zelensky asked the West not to do the deal ‘behind us’ as the threat to Ukraine grew.