Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said his countrymen ‘are not afraid’ after Russia moved to recognise the independence of two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine and hours later said it would deploy troops there to “maintain peace”.
An urgent meeting of the United Nations Security Council took place on the deepening Ukraine crisis as the US said the announcement by Russian President Vladimir Putin was an “unprovoked violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
Western countries have repeatedly warned Russia not to officially recognise the separatist regions in Donetsk and Luhansk.
Russia has been massing its forces around Ukraine’s borders for weeks, raising concern among the US and other Western governments that it might be planning to invade the country. Moscow has insisted it has no plans to do so.