The leaders of two separatist regions in eastern Ukraine have requested military assistance from Russian President Vladimir Putin, a Kremlin spokesman said Wednesday, as Pentagon spokesman John Kirby confirmed that US intelligence has determined that additional military forces have entered the two regions.
Russian President Vladimir Putin "received letters of appeal from Leonid Pasechnik, leader of the Luhansk People's Republic, and Denis Pushilin, head of the Donetsk People's Republic," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told state-run media, referring to the breakaway territories' titles.
Peskov said that the two separatist region's leaders feel there are "threats from Kyiv" towards Donetsk and Luhansk residents.
Ukrainian officials have emphatically denied assaulting the Russian military or troops loyal to the two separatist areas, while Kirby recently told reporters that he believes Moscow is aiming to use "false flags" to justify an invasion of Ukraine.
"We continue to watch him develop his talents in a way that makes us feel we are maybe on the verge of action," Kirby said Wednesday. "Russian soldiers continue to amass closer to the border and prepare for action almost at any time now," he continued. "Our assessment is that they are prepared."
On Wednesday, shelling along the line of contact in eastern Ukraine escalated, and unnamed witnesses told Reuters that convoys of military equipment, including nine tanks, were moving into Donetsk in eastern Ukraine from the direction of the Russian border.
"I cannot predict what Russia, the separatists, or the Russian president's personal actions will do next," Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky stated.
Ukraine's government and state websites, which have been offline for many weeks due to what Kyiv blames on cyber-attacks, were again unavailable on Wednesday. The websites of the country's parliament, cabinet, and foreign ministry were disrupted.
Meanwhile, Putin said Wednesday that he is still seeking diplomatic solutions but that "Russia's interests and the security of our citizens remain unwavering."
President Joe Biden, who on Tuesday announced penalties against Russian banks and sovereign debt, said the US will put sanctions on the operator of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany, thus reinstating measures imposed under the Trump administration.
"I have authorized that sanctions be imposed on Nord Stream 2 AG and its corporate officers by my government. These actions constitute another component of our initial batch of penalties in response to Russia's activities in Ukraine," he explained.
Theepochtimes contributed to this report.
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Putin: Russian has been solicited for military aid by the leaders of two separatist territories in eastern Ukraine.
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