The TAKE with Averi Harper
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to recognize the independence of Russian-controlled Ukrainian separatist states Monday have been widely interpreted as an escalation of tensions and have triggered limited sanctions from both the White House and the European Union.
These aren’t the "severe" sanctions promised if Russia invades Ukraine, but a warning shot. Still, the threat of far-reaching sanctions and the offer of a diplomatic out -- a soft agreement of a meeting between President Joe Biden and Putin if the Russian leader stands down -- hasn’t deterred a progression of Russian troops around Ukraine.
"We never give up hope on diplomacy until the missiles fly or the tanks roll," National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told "Good Morning America" anchor Michael Strahan. He later added, "The likelihood there's a diplomatic solution given the troop movements of the Russians is diminishing hour by hour."
In an interview with ABC News' Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned of a potentially dangerous situation for civilians in Ukraine’s capital city. He indicated that Russia has the capability to have a "significant amount of combat power move very quickly to take Kyiv."
A conflict wouldn’t just have an impact in Ukraine and Russia. There is also a threat of global economic impact. Look no further than the already soaring gas prices. A Russian invasion and subsequent severe sanctions could result in energy prices in the U.S. going even higher, a possibility Vice President Kamala Harris acknowledged at the Munich Security Conference in Germany.
The risk of higher gas prices amid inflation worries could worsen what some would describe as dismal prospects for political gains for Biden and Democrats during this high-stakes election year.
The RUNDOWN with Alisa Wiersema
Although much of Washington's focus is turning to global affairs, Americans continue to grapple with evolving parameters surrounding COVID-19 restrictions. Virtually all states have announced intentions to end indoor mask mandates, but the issue of coronavirus-related mandates remains a particularly charged topic among some groups.
As reported by ABC News' Rachel Scott, Luke Barr and Beatrice Peterson, the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department is bulking up resources ahead of potential trucker protests similar to those that occurred in Ottawa, Canada, in protest of the country's coronavirus-related restrictions.
The effort is happening as a group of American truckers from California announced a cross-country tour in protest of ongoing COVID-19 mandates. The tour is slated to make stops in six states before concluding in Maryland. The group is not expected to enter the city limits of Washington, D.C., but authorities are still on alert.
Officers in the Metropolitan Police Department will start increasing patrols across areas surrounding the nation's capital starting Tuesday through March 5, shortly after the president's State of the Union address. D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee told reporters Friday that mitigation efforts are in the early stages, and though Washington has alternative modes of transportation available to citizens, "we have to be realistic" that there could be "disruptions to traffic."
"I think we need to be very candid with the public about what some of the expectations based upon what we've seen in Ottawa ... some of those things could be [what] we might see here in the district," Contee said.
The TIP with Lalee Ibssa
The Ohio Redistricting Commission will meet Tuesday after failing to comply with the state Supreme Court's order to pass new state House and Senate maps by last week.
The commission, which includes Gov. Mike DeWine, faces a Wednesday noon deadline to explain to the court why it should not be held in contempt for the missed deadline. It comes as the court previously rejected two sets of Republican-approved legislative maps and one congressional map, citing unconstitutional gerrymandering toward Republicans.
Now, top election officials in the state are warning that the ongoing redistricting battle is jeopardizing the ability to hold the state's primary election in May.
"Let me be impeccably clear about something. With just four weeks until ballots are required to be sent to our men and women in uniform and their families overseas, and with much to be done in preparation, we are dangerously close to possibly violating federal law," Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose said in last week's redistricting meeting. "We need finality."
North Carolina already moved its primary from March until May of 2022 due to ongoing redistricting litigation in the state.
NUMBER OF THE DAY, powered by FiveThirtyEight
30. That’s the percentage of Democrats who think President Joe Biden can unite the country. As FiveThirtyEight’s Alex Samuels and Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux write, Democrats have been souring on Biden since last summer. There aren’t any signs of the situation improving anytime soon either. Read more from Alex and Amelia on how Democrats lost their optimism around Biden.
ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Start Here begins Tuesday morning with ABC’s Ian Pannell on the latest from Ukraine, as U.S. officials warn a Russian invasion is likely imminent. Then, former Ambassador Bill Taylor breaks down the U.S. response after Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would recognize the independence of two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine. And, ABC’s Elizabeth Schulze explains home buying difficulties and a possible upcoming rise in interest rates. http://apple.co/2HPocUL
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