Feb 24 (Reuters) – Ukrainian authorities moved toward declaring a nationwide state of emergency after Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized two breakaway territories, ratcheting up tensions with Kyiv and sparking concerns about a potential broader conflict.
The measure, announced by Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov in Kyiv on Wednesday, would empower communities across the country of 41 million to impose restrictions. The curbs on people’s movement, mass gatherings and media require the approval of Ukraine’s parliament.
The state of emergency would last an initial 30 days, with parliamentary approval coming as early as Wednesday, Danilov said.
Russia’s recognition of separatist-controlled areas in the Donbas region and its sustained military presence on the border with Ukraine have sparked a security crisis for the West. The U.S. and its European allies accuse the government in Moscow of undermining Ukraine’s territorial integrity and violating international law.
The U.S. and U.K. say their intelligence still suggests Russia is preparing to launch a large-scale invasion of Ukraine, including potentially the capital, Kyiv. Moscow has repeatedly denied such plans, but Putin’s treaties with the separatist territories allow him to deploy troops into those areas and to build bases there.
Putin has said for now he will not send in forces he describes as “peacekeepers.” Doing so would raise concern about proximity to the line of contact between the separatists and Ukraine’s military.