Putin’s plot to start a war that is “in a few days” | World | News

Russia’s approach to Ukraine ‘dangerous’, says Nuland

Russia has positioned nearly 100,000 troops near the border of Europe’s second largest country. There are warnings that the risk of a Russian invasion remains high with no sign that Moscow will send troops back to barracks.

Tobias Ellwood said: “I fear an invasion by Russian forces is inevitable and imminent and we have allowed that to happen.

“We had the opportunity to place enough military equipment and personnel in Ukraine that President Putin would think twice about invading, but we didn’t.

“Only President Putin knows what he’s going to do next, but next week seems crucial.”

He told MailOnline: ‘He has negotiated himself into a corner and after NATO refused to comply with his threats there is apparently only one option left.’

The war in Ukraine is in “a few days” (Image: Getty)

    MP Tobias Ellwood walking through Westminster on his way to Parliament

MP Tobias Ellwood walking through Westminster on his way to Parliament (Image: Getty)

Russia denies planning an attack, but says it could take unspecified military action unless its demands, which include a promise from the NATO alliance never to admit Ukraine, are met.

U.S. officials spent weeks trying to ensure Europe would abide by Washington’s planned sanctions, but no clear agreement was reached on specific measures.

The European Union imposed sanctions on Russia when it annexed Crimea in 2014, but the bloc is divided over how to deal with the country, which accounts for a third of EU gas imports.

Mr Ellwood’s remarks come after a massive cyber attack issued a warning to ‘be afraid and expect the worst’ on Ukrainian government websites.

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Members of the Kyiv Territorial Defense Unit are trained in an industrial zone on January 15

Getty (Image: Members of Kyiv’s Territorial Defense Unit are trained in an industrial area on January 15)

more Ukrainians have been moved to join territorial defense groups, which aim to equip civilians with military skills

More Ukrainians have been moved to join advocacy groups, which aim to provide military skills (Image: Getty)

Kyiv’s state security service, the SBU, said the attack showed signs of Russian involvement. It came hours after security talks ended Thursday with no breakthrough between Moscow and its Western allies.

A spokesman for the White House National Security Council said it was not yet clear who was responsible, but Washington offered support to Ukraine.

Russia did not comment but has previously denied cyberattacks, including against Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has proposed a three-way meeting with the leaders of Russia and the United States.

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Where does Russian gas go in Europe (Picture: Express)

His chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, said his country’s “life and death” hangs in the balance.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the United States is concerned that Russia is preparing for the possibility of another military assault.

He said: “As part of its plans, Russia is preparing the ground for the possibility of fabricating a pretext for the invasion, in particular through sabotage activities and information operations, by accusing the ‘Ukraine to Prepare for an Imminent Attack on Russian Forces in Eastern Ukraine.’

A US official said Washington had information indicating that Russia had already positioned a group of operatives to carry out “a false flag operation” in eastern Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (Image: Getty)

The TASS news agency reported that Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed the reports as being based on “unsubstantiated” information.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow hoped security talks with the United States would resume, but that depended on Washington’s response to his government’s proposals.

He said: “We will categorically not accept the appearance of NATO just on our borders, especially given the current development of the Ukrainian leadership.”

Asked what Moscow meant by threats to take military-technical measures if the talks failed, Mr. Lavrov replied: “Measures to deploy military equipment, that’s obvious.

“When we make decisions with military equipment, we understand what we mean and what we are preparing for.”

Footage released by the RIA news agency shows armored vehicles and other military equipment being loaded onto trains in Russia’s Far East. Moscow maneuvers as an inspection exercise to practice long-range deployments.

Rob Lee, a military analyst and researcher at the US-based Foreign Policy Research Institute, told Reuters: “It’s probably a cover for units being moved to Ukraine.”

The crisis in Ukraine began in 2013 with protests in Kyiv against then Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to reject a deal to strengthen economic ties with the EU.

A violent crackdown by state security forces drew more protesters, forcing Yanukovych to flee the country in February 2014.

A month later, Russian troops took control of the Ukrainian region of Crimea before formally annexing the peninsula.

Vladimir Putin justified the annexation by saying it was necessary to protect the rights of Russian citizens and Russian speakers in Crimea and southeastern Ukraine.

Two months later, pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions held a referendum to declare the country’s independence.

Since April 2014, violence in eastern Ukraine between Russian-backed separatist forces and the Ukrainian military has left more than 10,300 people dead and nearly 24,000 injured.

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