KYIV, Ukraine — Russia has begun evacuating its embassy in Kyiv, and Ukraine is now urging its citizens to leave Russia as it braces for a potential invasion.
Europe and Western allies are now bracing for further confrontation after tensions over Ukraine escalated dramatically on Tuesday. Russian President Vladimir Putin asked for and received permission from parliament to use military force outside his country.
A key question now is whether Putin will stop at recognizing the independence of rebel regions in Ukraine's east or try to move deeper into the country.
The West responded with a raft of sanctions, all but sinking hopes for a diplomatic way out of a new war.
On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled plans to meet his Russian counterpart in Geneva later this week as Russia presses ahead with recognition of separatist regions of Ukraine.
Blinken told reporters that Russia's actions indicate Moscow is not serious about a diplomatic path to resolving the crisis. As a result, he says, he has called off his Thursday meeting with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
The White House has said it remains open to a diplomatic resolution to the conflict.
Kyiv also recalled its ambassador and considered breaking all diplomatic ties with Moscow.
Dozens of nations further squeezed Russian oligarchs and banks out of international markets.
President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced the U.S. would levy economic sanctions against Russia on financial institutions, sovereign debt, sanctions on Russian elites and their family members.
Germany has also halted the process of certifying the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia — a massive, lucrative deal long sought by Moscow. The pipeline project has long been criticized by the United States and some European countries, who argue that it increases Europe's reliance on Russian energy supplies.
On Wednesday, the White House said in a statement that it would move forward with sanctions against the company that was building and operating the pipeline.
"These steps are another piece of our initial tranche of sanctions in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine. As I have made clear, we will not hesitate to take further steps if Russia continues to escalate," the statement read.