Russian state media reported Wednesday, that rebel leaders from Donetsk (and Luhansk) -- two separate regions in Eastern Ukraine -- asked President Vladimir Putin to provide military aid in order to protect against Ukrainian "aggressions" and avoid a "humanitarian disaster."
The Ukrainian military had warned earlier this week about Russian-backed mercenaries being sent to the area to "provoke" in order to create a pretext for invasion.
Russian state news agency Tass reported this week that two Moscow-backed regions Putin, formally recognised as independent earlier in the week, had asked the Kremlin for assistance pushing the Ukrainian military from the area.
Putin's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov was quoted saying that the Ukrainians are asking Russia for assistance in repelling the aggression of the armed forces of Ukraine.
Putin stated earlier this week that he would send troops to the territories to perform what he called "peacekeeping duties."
This week, the Ukrainian military warned that Russian-backed militias had been sent to the region to "provoke."
It stated that "The purpose these provocations will be, of course to accuse Ukraine further escalation."
John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesperson, stated that the U.S. believed Russia was poised to launch an attack on Ukraine around the time of the Tass Report. Kirby stated that Russian forces are assembling closer to the border, and are now ready to act.
He stated that an attack could happen "virtually at any moment now." They are ready, we believe."
An American defense official stated that the Russian troops are located between 3 and 30 miles (5 km to 50 km) from the border. Russia also has more then 10 land ships in the Black Sea, with troops aboard.
Biden's administration warned this week of an imminent invasion, which could also include Kyiv. On Wednesday, U.S. officials appeared more certain that such an event was imminent.
The Ukrainian government, previously less concerned about war, declared an emergency on Thursday. It also began calling up military reserve members.
Dmytro Kuleba, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, delivered a sobering message Wednesday to the United Nations General Assembly.
He stated that the "beginning of a large scale war in Ukraine" would be the end to the current world order.
America, Europe, and other allies seemed to have lost faith in diplomatic efforts. They cancelled meetings with Russian officials and instead imposed the first round of sanctions against Moscow.
According to The Associated Press, citing Russian state news agency Tass, Russia began the evacuation of its embassy in Kyiv. This was a dramatic, but expected, move. According to the report, Russia's flag had stopped flying above the building by Wednesday afternoon. This was just a day after Russia’s foreign ministry declared that all diplomatic missions in Ukraine would be evacuated to protect their personnel.
The Ukrainian parliament declared a national emergency on Wednesday night, with a 30-day period beginning on Thursday.
According to Mykhailo Fedorov (minister of digital transformation), cyberattacks hit at least five websites in Ukraine just before the parliament voted on the emergency. Cyberattacks also affected the websites of the Cabinet of Ministers, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Justice.
The National Police of Kyiv confirmed that a bomb threat was also made to Ukraine's Parliament. However, authorities did not find any explosives.
The government has begun conscription of reservists between the ages of 18 and 60.
Recent estimates suggest that the number of Ukrainians in Russia ranges from 1.9 million to 3,000,000.
"We are fully aware of the Russian Federation's risks. After asking lawmakers for approval of the emergency, Oleksiy Dalylov, Ukraine's top security officer, said that he understood that his army was ready to fight back.
The draft law that allows citizens to carry guns in self-defense was also approved by the Ukrainian parliament.
These moves are in response to an increase in conflict in the country's eastern region and a provocative series of actions by Moscow.
Putin stated Tuesday that Russia had recognized Donetsk, Luhansk in large areas of territory held by Ukraine's military. This move raised fears that Russia could start an armed conflict as Russian troops move into the area. It also came after Putin received parliamentary approval to use foreign armed forces.
Putin stated Wednesday that Russia is open to dialogue and diplomatic solutions to complex problems. This statement was released in conjunction with the Defender of the Fatherland Day.
He said, "But I repeat: The security of our citizens and the interests of Russia are unaffected for us."
Biden stated that Putin's order to send troops into Ukraine's eastern Ukraine, which is governed by separatists supported by Russia, was "the beginning of an invasion" a day earlier.
Biden stated that Russia was still poised to launch a major military attack on Ukraine.
Antony Blinken, Secretary of State, cancelled a meeting with Sergey Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister -- another sign of the shrinking window for diplomacy.
Allies of the United States, including Canada, Australia, Germany, Britain and Australia, have announced that they have or will impose sanctions on Russia.
Russian banks were their main targets, but oligarchs and lawmakers as well as a crucial natural gas pipeline were also targeted.
Even though Washington and London's political opposition claimed that the measures were not hard enough to be effective, Biden and his allies made it clear that they will impose more sanctions on Russian forces if they attempt to enter Ukraine-controlled territory.
"Hit more. Hit hard. Hit now," was Kuleba's message to Ukraine's foreign minister , , on Wednesday .
The Russian foreign ministry condemned the U.S. sanctions as being "counterproductive", and warned that Moscow would respond strongly.
CORRECTION (Feb. 23, 20,22, 4:52 pm. ET: An earlier version of this article misrepresented the date when Ukraine's emergency declaration takes effect. It starts on Thursday, not Friday.