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Tanks have reportedly been spotted near the city of Donetsk, a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin approved an order for Russian forces to enter two pro-Russian separatist regions in east Ukraine.
Reporters on the ground in Donetsk — the capital of one of the breakaway regions formally recognised by Putin on Monday — said that a column of unmarked military vehicles was seen rolling down streets on the outskirts of the city for the second night in a row.
Tanks and military vehicles drive along streets in the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk, Ukraine, after Putin ordered the deployment of Russian troops to two breakaway regions https://t.co/p640BOACJa 📷 Alexander Ermochenko pic.twitter.com/0k41UeDeUF— Reuters Pictures (@reuterspictures) February 22, 2022
Reuters reports that the tanks — which have not been confirmed as Russian — had not previously been seen in the area prior to Putin's declaration that the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics would be recognised as independent states.
Despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson telling the House of Commons yesterday, February 22, that Russia's action amounted to a 'renewed invasion', UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said that there was not yet 'full evidence' that Russian troops had entered Ukraine, after Putin on Monday evening said that 'peacekeeping' forces would be sent to the DPR and LPR.
'We've heard from Putin himself that he is sending in troops. We don't yet have the full evidence that that has taken place,' Truss told Sky News, while warning 'what we are expecting, and this has been confirmed by the Americans as well as by the United Kingdom, is a full-scale invasion, including potentially of Kyiv'.
Truss's words were echoed by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who today told reporters that he believed a Russian invasion was 'likely to occur within the next 24 hours', and had 'in effect already begun'.
As fears of a wider invasion of Russia mount, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed last night that he was issuing a call up notice for the country's military reservists aged between 18-60.
In a statement, Zelensky ruled out a general mobilisation of the population and urged the public not to panic, but called on Ukrainians to stand ready to defend their country.
'Ukrainians are a peaceful nation. We want quiet. But if we are today silent, then tomorrow we will disappear,' he said, per the New York Times.
The UK, US and EU have all confirmed a 'first tranche' of sanctions against Russia in response to Monday's events, with further sanctions expected to be implemented should Russian forces launch a wider invasion of the country.
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