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Putin to recognise military veterans as a new generation contemplates war

Vladimir Putin is expected to lay a wreath at Moscow’s Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier today as the current generation of troops contemplates a full-blown war in Ukraine.

The Russian president will mark Defender Of The Fatherland Day, which is intended to honour military service personnel, marking the date in 1918 of the first mass draft into the Red Army.

It comes as a full invasion of Ukraine looks increasingly likely, despite diplomatic efforts.

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‘This is the beginning of a Russian invasion’

On Tuesday, US President Joe Biden announced the first wave of sanctions against Russia, affecting Russian banks, oligarchs, and the country’s sovereign debt.

He told reporters that Russian troops being ordered to eastern Ukraine after Mr Putin recognised the independence of two separatist regions – Donetsk and Luhansk – marked the “beginning of an invasion”.

Read more: Comparing the military forces of Russia and Ukraine

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Also on Tuesday, new satellite pictures from space technology company Maxar showed several fresh Russian troop and equipment deployments in western Russia and more than 100 military vehicles at a small airfield in southern Belarus, which borders Ukraine.

More on Joe Biden

NATO members, including the US and UK, have been moving troops to allied countries near Ukraine such as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland in recent weeks.

Read more: How strong is NATO’s position in eastern Europe?

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On the frontline in Donbas

In other key developments:

• US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has cancelled a meeting with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, which had been planned for Thursday in Geneva

• United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres criticised Mr Putin’s assertion that Russian troops heading to Luhansk and Donetsk were “peacekeepers”, saying: “When troops of one country enter the territory of another country without its consent, they are not impartial peacekeepers – they are not peacekeepers at all.”

• UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK was sanctioning five Russian banks and three oligarchs, freezing their UK assets and banning travel to Britain

• The EU issued sanctions aimed at 351 Russian politicians who voted to recognise the breakaway regions, as well as 27 other Russian officials and institutions from defence and banking

• Australia, Canada, Japan, and Germany were also among the countries to announce sanctions on Russia

• The fate of a tentatively-agreed summit between Mr Biden and Mr Putin, brokered by the French president, is uncertain. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said talking about summit plans was “premature”.

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PM announces Russia sanctions

Read more: ‘Turning up to a gunfight with a peashooter’: Johnson under fire for limited sanctions against Russia

On Tuesday, Russian legislators gave President Putin permission to use armed forces abroad – a possible sign that a broader attack on Ukraine is imminent.

But he has yet to unleash the full strength of the 150,000 troops he has amassed on three sides of Ukraine.

Likewise, Mr Biden has not yet used the full extent of sanction power available to him – further measures could include an export ban that would deny American technology for Russia’s industries and military, and other bans that could severely limit Russia’s ability to do business with the world.

Read more: Who are the key players in the Ukraine crisis?

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Mr Putin has laid out three conditions to end the crisis. He called for international recognition of Crimea as part of Russia, an end to Ukraine’s NATO membership bid and a halt to weapons shipments to the country.

The West condemned Crimea’s 2014 annexation as a violation of international law and has rejected permanently barring Ukraine from joining NATO.

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