Ukrainian President Seeks 'Clear, Effective' Support In Face Of Russian Actions
By RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service February 22, 2022
KYIV -- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says Kyiv expects "clear" signs of support and action from its allies and not just words as his country faces the threat of invasion from Russia.
"We expect clear and effective support steps from our partners. It is very important to see now who is our true friend and partner and who will continue to scare Russia with words," he said in a televised address late on February 21.
At a news briefing on February 22, Zelenskiy said he was considering a request from his Foreign Ministry to break diplomatic ties with Russia.
He also said that Western sanctions against Moscow should include "the complete stop of Nord Stream 2," a Russian-led gas pipeline due to deliver natural gas to Germany via the Baltic Sea.
The United States has opposed the pipeline, saying it will leave Europe too reliant on Russian energy supplies and cause economic harm to Ukraine, which it bypasses.
Zelenskiy's remarks came after Russian President Vladimir Putin defied UN and Western warnings and announced that he would recognize the independence bids of Russia-backed separatists in two regions of eastern Ukraine.
Putin also said he would send troops to the regions to protect civilians-- actions the West condemned and which the United States said were part of Moscow's attempts to create a pretext for an invasion of Ukraine.
"Ukraine unequivocally qualifies the recent actions by the Russian Federation as a violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our state," Zelenskiy said. "All responsibility for the consequences of these decisions lies on Russia's political leadership."
"We are not afraid of anyone or anything," he added. "We don't owe anyone anything. And we won't give anything to anyone."
"The recognition of independence of occupied areas of Donetsk and Luhansk might constitute a unilateral withdrawal from the Minks agreements," he said, referring to the 2015 accords designed to set out a path to a peace settlement.
Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014 and seized the Crimea region. It has also backed the separatists in eastern Ukraine in a bloody war against the Kyiv government.
Zelenskiy vowed that the Ukrainian government would not react to Russian provocations but at the same time would not surrender any territory.
He said the country stands within its "internationally recognized borders. And they will remain like that despite everything, despite any statement or deeds by the Russian Federation."
He also urged calm in the country, saying there was no reason for "chaotic behavior" or "sleepless nights."
Zelenskiy has sent his foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, to Washington to meet with Secretary of State Antony Blinken in an effort to press for fresh U.S. sanctions against Moscow for its latest actions.
Ukraine's defense minister, Oleksiy Reznikov, said in a message to the nation's armed forces that Putin's decision to recognize the separatist regions as independent states represented "another step toward the revival of the Soviet Union.... [And] with the new Warsaw Pact and the new Berlin Wall."
"There will be hardship. There will be losses. We will have to endure pain, overcome fear and despair," he added.
With reporting by dpa
Copyright (c) 2022. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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