Russian Military to Put More Boots on Ukraine Ground As Rebels Ask for Help

The Russian military is set to send more troops to eastern Ukraine after rebel leaders asked for more military assistance.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the rebel leaders asked for more military to fend off Ukrainian "aggression." Peskov added that the rebel chiefs wrote to President Vladimir Putin, informing him that shelling by the Ukrainian army has caused people to flee and resulted in civilian deaths, the Associated Press reported.

However, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the request for Russian military help was an example of a "false flag" operation that the West previously warned Moscow would try to use to create an excuse for war, the AP reported.

"So we'll continue to call out what we see as 'false flag' operations or efforts to spread misinformation about what the actual status is on the ground," she said.

This latest request for Russian military help came after Putin recognized the rebel-controlled regions of Donetsk and Luhanskas independent states and signed friendship treaties, the AP added. The Russian president received permission from the Russian government on Tuesday to move military forces into eastern Ukraine, which the West issued sanctions over.

Putin previously claimed the troops being sent to the regions would act as "peacekeepers," but Western nations believe it could be another step toward a larger military action against Ukraine, CNBC reported.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said on Friday that the two rebel-held regions in eastern Ukraine had around 1,400 explosions, Reuters reported. Donetsk recorded 533 explosions and one civilian casualty while Luhansk recorded 860 explosions.

More than 60,000 residents in Donetsk and Luhansk fled to Russia on Monday over concerns about the possibility of an invasion. The Russian Federation's Ministry of Emergency Situations previously told reporters approximately 700,000 people in total are expected to evacuate from Donetsk to Russia, Newsweek previously reported.

On Tuesday, Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs also announced it was evacuating its diplomats from Kyiv, Odesa, Lviv and Kharkiv because of threats of violence and "aggressive actions" made against the diplomats.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian government declared a state of emergency on Wednesday as military action from Russia continued to increase. The order will last 30 days, starting Thursday. The government announced that the state of emergency is "in the interests of national security and public order."

The order allows the government to implement curfews, ban "information materials that could destabilize the situation in the country," and inspect people's documents and transportation.

U.S. intelligence officials told Newsweek that the Biden administration warned Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that, based on U.S. intelligence, Russia would likely begin an invasion within the next 48 hours.

A source close to Zelenskyy's government confirmed the information with Newsweek but added it was the third time within a month it has received a warning to prepare for imminent military action from Russia.

Update 2/23/2022 5:05 p.m.: This story has been updated to provide additional details.

Russia to Send More Troops
U.S. President Joe Biden has declared that Moscow had flagrantly violated international law in what he called the "beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine." Above, Russian armored vehicles are loaded onto railway platforms at a railway station not far from Russia-Ukraine border, in the Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, on Wednesday. AP Photo