Ukraine’s president said Tuesday his country may cut diplomatic ties to Russia, in response to Moscow’s decision to recognize parts of eastern Ukraine as independent of the government in Kyiv.
Speaking to reporters at a joint press briefing with his Estonian counterpart Tuesday afternoon, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said that he is seriously considering a recommendation from the Foreign Ministry to cut diplomatic contact with Russia.
"I've received a request from the foreign ministry. I will consider the issue of severing diplomatic relations between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. Immediately after our press conference, I will consider this issue," Zelenskiy said.
Zelenskiy called on the West to impose tighter sanctions on Russia, including measures to close the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is set to carry oil from Russia to Western Europe via Germany.
On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an executive order Monday recognizing the independence of pro-Russian separatist groups in eastern Ukraine.
Hours later, Putin ordered his defense ministry to dispatch peacekeepers to Donetsk and Luhansk, eastern Ukraine's two breakaway regions, Reuters reported.
The decision prompted the US to relocate its mission in Ukraine to Poland, Bloomberg reported Monday.
British Health Minister Sajid Javid, a member of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s cabinet, said in an interview with Sky News Tuesday morning that Russia’s announcement that it considers territories in eastern Ukraine to be independent is tantamount to an assault on Ukraine’s sovereignty.
The “invasion of Ukraine has begun,” Javid said, adding that the West is “wake up to a very dark day,” Tuesday.
“We are waking up to a very dark day in Europe and it’s clear from what we have already seen and found out today that the Russians, president Putin, has decided to attack the sovereignty of Ukraine and its territorial integrity.”