President Volodymyr Zelensky’s nationwide state of emergency decree has been approved by Ukrainian lawmakers and officials. The order will last for 30 days, and comes in the wake of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s February 21 decision to recognize the independence of Eastern Ukrainian separatist regions.
Eastern Ukraine has been the site of a violent 8-year conflict claiming the lives of over 14,000 people. Russian troops have been sanctioned for deployment to the area in an effort to “maintain peace”. The heavy support for Russia in East Ukraine, alongside a pro-Russian political party in parliament lend to fears that Putin is aiming to internally destabilize Ukraine.
In reciprocation of the tension exerted by Moscow, Ukraine has recalled its ambassador to Russia and is currently considering breaking all diplomatic ties to the country.
Further, there are claims that cyberattacks are wreaking havoc on government websites and certain banks within Ukraine. Mikhail Fedorov, Ukraine’s minister for digital transformation said the distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attacks specifically targeted the Ukrainian cabinet, parliament and foreign ministry.
NATO has blamed these attacks on Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency, also warning that future attacks were expected.
Sanctions a Welcome Support from the West
Despite major Western players ruling out a military conflict with Russia; many are opting for sanctions as a way to dissuade the aggressive nation from a Ukraine invasion. Various EU sanctions agreed upon on Tuesday were hailed as “a first step” by Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who also said that further measures were a possibility.
Dmytro Kuleba, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister told reporters “The time for the next wave of sanctions has come” following an address to the United Nations General Assembly.
Clearly frustrated at the initial sanctions; Russian ambassador to the U.S Anatoly Antonov wrote on Facebook that “sanctions cannot solve a thing”. “It is hard to imagine that there is a person in Washington; who expects Russia to revise its foreign policy under a threat of restrictions.”
Despite the support of West-backed sanctions, however; the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has advised against travel to Russia; and recommended anyone there to leave as soon as possible. Stating that Russia’s “aggression” could lead to less accessible consular services.