Ukraine may break off diplomatic ties with Russia, president says

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KYIV, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Ukraine may break off diplomatic relations with Russia after Moscow decided to recognise two breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine as independent, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said at a briefing on Tuesday.

Speaking alongside his Estonian counterpart, Zelenskiy said he was weighing a request from his foreign ministry to break off ties.

He also urged Ukraine's allies not to wait for a further escalation to impose sanctions, which he said should include shutting down the Russian-led Nord Stream 2 pipeline, awaiting approval to carry Russian gas under the Baltic Sea to Germany.

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"I've received a request from the foreign ministry. I will consider the issue of severing diplomatic relations between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. Immediately after our press conference, I will consider this issue," Zelenskiy said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks during the annual Munich Security Conference, in Munich, Germany February 19, 2022. REUTERS/Andreas Gebert

Putin's announcement on Monday, and his signing of a decree on the deployment of Russian troops to the two breakaway regions, drew international condemnation and immediate U.S. sanctions, with President Joe Biden signing an executive order to halt U.S. business activity in the breakaway regions.

The United States and its European allies were set to announce fresh sanctions against Russia on Tuesday. read more

Zelenskiy, who in his nighttime address to the nation accused Russia of destroying peace efforts, played down the prospect of a large-scale conflict with Russia but said he was prepared to introduce martial law if that happened.

"As for martial law ... this question is clear to us. We believe that there will be no war, there will be no powerful (war) against Ukraine and there will be no wide escalation by the Russian Federation. If there is a (wide escalation), then martial law will be introduced," he said.

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Reporting by Pavel Polityuk and Natalia Zinets; writing by Matthias Williams; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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