Much of the world scrambled on Tuesday to condemn Russia's decision to recognize and send troops into two parts of eastern Ukraine that claim independence from Kyiv. Even countries with good relations with Russia, like Greece and Turkey, called Russia's incursion into Ukraine's sovereign territory unacceptable. China, cultivating a strategic alliance with Moscow, urged more dialogue between Russia, Ukraine, and Western democracies.
One of the big questions as Russian tanks and troops enter Ukraine's breakaway Donetsk and Luhansk regions is what the world is wiling to do about it. Sanctions are forthcoming, but it's unclear how severe they will be at this stage. The U.S., Britain, and Japan are weighing punitive sanctions on Russian interests, but the European Union can only act if all member states agree.
EU foreign ministers will meet Tuesday to plan their response, and "clearly, that response will be in the form of sanctions," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in Paris. "Russian troops have entered in Donbas. We consider Donbas part of Ukraine." He suggested it wouldn't be the full slate of punitive sanctions the EU has prepared if Russia moved to take Kyiv. "I wouldn't say that's a fully fledged invasion, but Russian troops are on Ukrainian soil," Borrell said.
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Didier Reynders, the European Commissioner for Justice, called Russia's incursion an "act or war" and said when it comes to sanctions, "everything is on the table," from travel bans on individuals to ensuring "that there are no more imports of goods or services from Russia, such as energy, and that Russia's global access to financial services is terminated." He said sanctions will probably ramp up proportionately to Russia's actions.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he will introduce "immediate" sanctions that will hit "Russian economic interests as hard as we can." Russia has "completely torn up international law," he said, and "I'm afraid all the evidence is that President Putin is indeed bent on a full-scale invasion of the Ukraine, the overrunning, the subjugation of an independent, sovereign European country and I think, let's be absolutely clear, that would be absolutely catastrophic."
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