PARIS, Feb 22 — Western powers reacted swiftly to yesterday's decision by Russian President Vladimir Putin to recognise the independence of the two self-proclaimed republics in eastern Ukraine, condemning Moscow and calling for sanctions.

Here is a summary of the responses so far:

Move ‘won’t go unanswered’: Biden, Macron, Scholz

The leaders of France, Germany and the United States condemned Putin’s move as a “clear breach” of the Minsk peace agreements.

French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and US President Joe Biden agreed that “this step will not go unanswered”, the German chancellery said in a statement published following their conversation.

United States announces sanctions

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted that Putin’s decision required “a swift and firm response, and we will take appropriate steps in coordination with partners”.

The United States announced financial sanctions against the rebel territories freshly recognised by Russia in eastern Ukraine and warned that more were ready if necessary.

United Nations condemns ‘violation’

UN chief Antonio Guterres said Russia’s decision amounted to “a violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and inconsistent with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations”.

France calls for emergency UN meeting 

French President Emmanuel Macron, who was still pressing for a diplomatic settlement earlier yesterday, called for targeted European Union sanctions against Moscow.

“He is demanding an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council as well as the adoption of targeted European sanctions,” said a statement from his office.

UK prepares ‘robust’ sanctions

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson denounced Putin’s decision as “a flagrant violation of the sovereignty and integrity of the Ukraine”.

A “very robust package of sanctions” would be triggered “with the first toecap of a Russian incursion or Russian invasion”, he added.

Germany says Moscow ‘breaking all its promises’ 

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said that Moscow was breaking the Minsk peace agreements that it signed in 2014.

“With its decision, Russia is breaking all its promises to the world community,” she said.

Nato says Russia seeks ‘pretext to invade Ukraine’

Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg said Putin’s decision “further undermines Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, erodes efforts towards a resolution of the conflict, and violates the Minsk Agreements, to which Russia is a party.

“Moscow continues to fuel the conflict in eastern Ukraine by providing financial and military support to the separatists. It is also trying to stage a pretext to invade Ukraine once again,” he added.

EU vows unified response 

Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, the European Union’s two most senior figures, posted identical statements on Twitter.

Condemning Putin’s move as “a blatant violation of international law”, they added: “The EU and its partners will react with unity, firmness and with determination in solidarity with Ukraine.”

Serbia fears crisis could spread

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said there are fears that the Ukraine crisis “could spread in other parts of Europe and the world, especially on the Western Balkans”.

Romania travel warning 

Romania’s foreign ministry tells all its nationals in Ukraine to “leave the country immediately!” — AFP