The White House said on Tuesday that “an invasion” was now effectively underway in Ukraine and that sanctions against Russia, considered to be the aggressor, will soon be announced.
Russian troops arrived in eastern Ukraine overnight, just hours after President Vladimir Putin signed two executive orders recognizing the independence of two separatist regions; Donetsk and Luhansk, which are located in Donbas, the name of the area where the two regions have long fought Russia-backed rebels.
The Kremlin said on Tuesday that the recognition of the two regions extends to parts held by Ukrainian forces, a move that may pave the way for Russian “peacekeeping” forces to fight inside Ukraine.
“We think this is, yes, the beginning of an invasion, Russia’s latest invasion into Ukraine,” Jon Finer, the principal deputy national security adviser, said on CNN.
Fox News quoted another unnamed White House official as also calling Russian action “an invasion” and warning that “swift and severe” sanctions that President Joseph R. Biden Jr. had promised were on the way.
“The invasion has begun,” the official said. “So our sanctions response has begun.”
How those sanctions would affect the Russian elite and President Vladimir Putin himself remain to be seen.
Russian lawmakers on Tuesday gave President Putin permission to use military force outside the country, another move that could pave the way for war inside Ukraine.
Members of the upper house, the Federation Council, voted unanimously to allow Putin to use military force outside Russia.
That permission has given cover to Putin to back rebels in the two separatist regions he recognized as independent on Monday.