Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine are calling to mobilize, as Putin supervises nuclear drill

Leonid Pasechnik was the leader of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic. He signed a decree calling to "full combat readiness."

Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine are calling to mobilize, as Putin supervises nuclear drill

Pro-Russian separatist leaders of eastern Ukraine ordered a full mobilization Saturday amid rising violence that has heightened fears Moscow might use an escalation to the conflict as a pretext for invading.

These announcements were made ahead of large-scale drills involving Russian nukes, which are being overseen by President Vladimir Putin. This is a timely reminder that Russia's nuclear power exists as Europe faces its most serious security crisis since the Cold War. The Kremlin released a statement Saturday stating that cruise and ballistic missiles were launched from sea, land, and air.

In eastern Ukraine where Moscow-supported separatists are fighting government forces depuis 2014, Denis Pushilin (the head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic) urged reservists in a Telegram video on Saturday to report on their attendance at military enlistment office.

Leonid Pasechnik (leader of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic) also signed a decree calling to "full combat readiness" in neighboring Luhansk.

Separatists control an area about the same size as New Jersey. It's home to around 2 million people who speak Russian and use the Russian ruble. Hundreds of thousands of them also have Russian passports.

They made these statements as the evacuations of civilians in rebel-held areas to be reunified with Russia continued.

Oksana Feoktisova, 38, boarded a bus together with her 9-year old son and mother at Donetsk's evacuation point. Feoktisova's older brother Yuri accompanied them, but he stayed in Donetsk.

Yuri said to Reuters that they don't allow men on and she wouldn't go. "I am a reservist in all cases. I am an artilleryman by birth... I am loyal to my state and my people."

These evacuations are occurring amid a spike of shelling in the area that has sparked fresh global alarm.

"Illegal armed group, supported by aggressor country Russia Federation, continue to massacly shell the positions and military of the Ukrainian army. Two of our soldiers were killed today and five were injured," Valeriy Zaluzhnyy said, Commander-in Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said that they had recorded 648 violations of ceasefire in Luhansk on Friday and 222 in Donetsk. The OSCE doesn't tend to assign blame as a policy.

Separately, the Ukrainian military stated that mercenaries arrived in eastern Ukraine to carry out provocations with Russia's special forces. It stated that the purpose of these provocations was to accuse Ukraine for further escalation.

Russia's Investigative committee said that it had opened an investigation into Russian media reports that a Ukrainian bomb had been reported to have exploded in Russia's Rostov region, less than one mile from the border. The reports were labelled Russian propaganda by Valerii Zaluzhnyi, the Ukrainian military chief.

Despite U.S. concerns, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy traveled to Germany on Saturday for a security conference. His office stated that the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy went to Munich, Germany, on Saturday, despite U.S. concerns. He met with Kamala Harris , Vice President of the West and other leaders.

According to a White House description, Harris reiterated to Zelenskyy the U.S.'s commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. They also "agreed upon the importance of diplomacy" and "de-escalation," according the White House description of their meeting.

Harris spoke at the conference and stated that Ukraine's "foundation of European Security is under direct threat." She also said that the U.S. would impose "significant and unprecedented economic cost" on Russia if it invades.

Her message was echoed by Ursula von der Leyen (head of the European Union executive commission), who warned Moscow that it would be denied access to financial markets or high-tech goods due to Western sanctions.

A White House official stated that Harris met separately on Saturday with von der Leyen, as well as several other world leaders including Olaf Scholz, the Chancellor of Germany, and Kyriakos Mitchellsotakis (the prime minister of Greece) to discuss Ukraine diplomacy.

Zelenskyy later spoke to the conference, saying that Russia would not attack anyone but that they were ready for anything.

Zelenskyy stated that "we can't be passive" and that it was impossible to predict the future. When asked about the rumours that he planned to leave Ukraine, Zelenskyy replied: "I had breakfast today in Ukraine and I will have dinner in Ukraine." I won't fly far for long."

When asked if Biden planned to meet Putin, Antony Blinken, Secretary of State on Saturday stated that Biden was always ready to meet "if we believe that that can advance diplomacy or the cause for peace." In an interview with Dozhd TV (an independent Russian TV channel), he made these remarks.

After President Joe Biden stated to reporters that he believes Putin had already "made the decision"to invade Ukraine on Friday, however, he stressed that Moscow should still "choose diplomacy".

Biden stated that it was not too late for de-escalation and a return to the negotiating tables.

During a Saturday trip to Lithuania, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin repeated Biden's comments. Austin stated that "they are uncoiling" and were now ready to strike, ahead of meeting with Baltic leaders.

Moscow denies any intention to invade Ukraine and instead has tried to portray Ukraine as aggressor. It stated Friday that it was monitoring the escalation in shelling in eastern Ukraine and describing the situation to be potentially very dangerous.

The U.S. warned Russia for weeks that it could use false flag operations, including unrest and protests, as an excuse to invade Ukraine. It estimates that Russia has gathered as many as 190,000. troops within Ukraine's borders.

According to a U.S. defense officer, the Kremlin has 40-50 percent of its forces in Ukraine under attack. This was disclosed by NBC News on Friday. According to the official, troops are still a few miles away from the border.


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