Russia had begun the invasion of Ukraine by sending tanks and armored personnel vehicles into the separatist region of Donetsk late on Monday.
Amateur video shows convoys of vehicles and tanks apparently crossing into Donetsk, the capital of one of the two separatist regions of Ukraine.
Russia said the troops would be “peacekeeping” in the breakaway regions, which it has backed since 2014. But the US said calling them peacekeepers was “nonsense”. It accused Russia of creating a pretext for war.
Ukraine’s president said his country was “not afraid of anything or anyone”.
The invasion follows the announcement by President Vladimir Putin on Monday that Russia would recognize two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine as independent.
Early on Tuesday, the UK prime minister’s spokesman has said there is no doubt an invasion of Ukraine is taking place.
In reference to Russian actions overnight, Boris Johnson’s spokesman said: “We believe that amounts to a renewed invasion of the country”.
But the spokesman said a “full-scale invasion” was not taking place yet – and said the UK would continue to see if there are ways to get President Putin to pull back.
Later Boris Johnson told MPs that by recognizing separatist regions of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin is planning “the pretext for an invasion” of the rest of Ukraine.
“We must no brace ourselves for the next stages of Putin’s plan”, Johnson says. He tells MPs to expect a general offensive of nearly 200,000 troops.
Eastern Ukraine is an “ancient Russian land” Putin says
In an hour-long address on Monday, Putin said Ukraine was an integral part of his country’s history, and described eastern Ukraine as “ancient Russian lands”.
Russia’s UN Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya argued for the need to defend the rebel-held areas in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region from what he called Ukrainian aggression. “Allowing a new bloodbath in the Donbas is something we do not intend to do,” he said.
The Russian recognition of the breakaway Donetsk and Luhansk territories buries a fragile peace process regulating the long-running conflict in eastern Ukraine and further increases tensions between Russia and the West.
West condemns Russia and imposes sanctions
Late on Monday US President Joe Biden issued an executive order “that will prohibit new investment, trade, and financing by U.S. persons to, from, or in” the two regions in Ukraine that are currently being controlled by Russian-backed separatists Donetsk and Luhansk.
The U.S. President’s order will also “provide authority to impose sanctions on any person determined to operate in those areas of Ukraine,” press secretary Jen Psaki said. She explained that the U.S. “will also soon announce additional measures related to today’s blatant violation of Russia’s international commitments.”
Nord Stream 2 pipeline put on ice by Germany
Germany responded to Russia’s aggression by halting the process of certifying the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
Confirming the move, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said: “That sounds technical, but it is the necessary administrative step so there can be no certification of the pipeline and without this certification, Nord Stream 2 cannot begin operating.”
Vice-Chancellor and Economy Minister Robert Habeck later told reporters Germany’s gas supply was secure even without Nord Stream 2, which would have doubled the amount flowing into the country from Russia.
However, he predicted gas prices would increase further in the short term.