Ukraine Broadens State Of Emergency, Calls Up Military Reservists

Ukraine has begun calling up military reservists aged 18-60 for service of up to one year following a decree issued by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy as the country faces the threat of a full-sale invasion by Russia.

Separately, the Ukrainian parliament approved a declaration of a state of emergency.

The state of emergency pertains to all areas except separatist-controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk, where one has been in place since 2014. It allows authorities to impose restrictions on movement, rallies, and political parties and organizations “in the interests of national security and public order.”

The document also bans “information materials that could destabilize the situation in the country” and gives government the right to impose curfews and conduct checks.

The measure was overwhelmingly approved on the same day that Moscow began to evacuate its embassy in Kyiv and Washington stepped up its warnings about the chances of an all-out Russian attack.

The posture of Russian forces “leads us to believe that we are potentially close to a large-scale action,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said. “Russian forces continue to assemble closer to the border and put themselves in an advanced state of readiness to act. We believe that they are ready.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said late on February 23 that the leaders of pro-Russian separatist forces in eastern Ukraine had requested military support from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the separatists' request for Russian help was an example of the sort of “false flag” operation that the West had warned Moscow would use to create a pretext for war.

In a televised address on February 22, Zelenskiy said he would implement a conscription of reservists but that he was not ordering a general mobilization of troops at this time.

"As the Supreme Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, I issued a decree on the conscription of reservists during a special period," he said during the broadcast.

"We must increase the readiness of the Ukrainian Army for all possible changes in the operational situation," he added.

Zelenskiy added that he still sought a diplomatic way out of the current crisis, but he insisted that Ukraine would not cede any territory to Russia.

Ukraine also said it was urging its citizens to avoid travel to Russia and for those in the country to leave immediately, citing a possible disruption of consular services in the face of rising tensions with Russia.

On February 21, Putin said he was recognizing the independence of territories under the control of Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine and that he would send Russian troops there, moves condemned by Kyiv, the UN, the West, and various countries.

Western leaders have said the moves this week are the first step in an eventual full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on February 23 that Russia was heading toward "pariah status" and that the Kremlin was laying the ground for an all-out assault.

British Foreign Minister Liz Truss said that Russia was “highly likely” to attack the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, a city of some 2.6 million people.

Zelenskiy has criticized foreign allies for pulling their embassies out of the capital and in many cases out of the country.

He also attacked Ukrainian businesses for departing the country.

"All of them must stay in Ukraine. Their enterprises are located on Ukrainian soil, which is protected by our military," he said.

With reporting by Reuters and RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service