Vladimir Putin has said he is withdrawing some of his troops from the Ukrainian border, despite claims that artillery and tanks are ready for “attack positions”.
Although Liz Truss has warned that a Russian attack is “easy and very likely,” Ukraine has now insisted that its diplomatic talks with Western allies have succeeded in thwarting the incursion.
Russia’s Defense Ministry says it is returning to its bases on Tuesday after completing some military exercises in its military districts near Ukraine.
According to Russia’s Interfax news agency, although large-scale exercises will continue across the country, some units have completed their exercises and are returning to the base.
Footage released today by Russia’s Defense Ministry shows tanks and other armored vehicles being loaded onto railway flat cars.
The ministry said it would use trucks to move some military equipment, while some troops would march to the bases on their own.
The move appears to contradict US and British warnings that Russia could invade Ukraine at any time.
And Ms Truss said she would need to completely remove Russian troops from the Ukrainian border to make sure there were no plans to invade Moscow.
Asked about Interfax news agency reports that some Russian troops are expected to return to bases, he told LBC: “I have not seen the reports you are referring to.
“Certainly, our latest intelligence indicates that an attack is imminent, very likely, and we have seen 100,000 troops deployed around the border.
“Separately, the Russians have claimed that they have no plans to attack, but we will need to remove the troops completely to show that we are safe.”
Ukraine, meanwhile, has insisted that its diplomatic efforts with Western allies have been successful.
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Foreign Minister Dmitry Coliba told reporters today: “We and our allies have succeeded in preventing Russia from advancing further.
“It’s already mid-February, and you can see the diplomacy is working.”
Despite reports of troops standing, a U.S. official said Russia moved some long-range artillery and rocket launchers into a firing position on Monday.
And Ms Truss said Britain and the West were still “preparing for the worst”.
A Western intelligence assessment revealed: “We would expect more than one serial attack and not one.”
This could mean a sudden push against Kiev, the use of precision strikes.
Other key cities will be besieged by Putin’s tanks and troops, while planes and helicopters will fire shells.
The Foreign Secretary warned that Europe was now “on the brink of war” with the Russian invasion “easily and very likely”.
And he fears that the Russian invasion will not “stop Ukraine.”
He told Sky News: “I’m afraid this is an attack that will not stop Ukraine, but will spread to Eastern Europe.
“If we see an attack on Ukraine, we will have to pay a heavy price in terms of the long-running conflict. It will damage Europe’s long-term security.”
This serious assessment came as Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky declared Unity Day yesterday and called on his people to stand up at 10 a.m. and sing the national anthem.
“We do not know how to give up and we will not learn to do so. We believe in our strength and together we will continue to build the future. We are united because of our love for Ukraine,” he said.
This comes at a time when Russia has recently become obsessed with new military deployments and war games near the Ukrainian border.
Fascinating footage shows hundreds of parachutists falling from the sky during exercises in the Kostrama area.
And more than 30 fighter jets took part in Black Sea naval exercises to destroy enemy submarines in waters near Ukraine.
Last night, Boris Johnson held critical talks with US President Joe Biden, saying that it was “absolutely clear” that Russia would launch an attack in a matter of days.
He warned that the attack would “create a protracted crisis with far-reaching consequences for both Russia and the world.”
But a Downing Street spokesman insisted that “there is an important window for diplomacy and for Russia to withdraw from its threats to Ukraine.”
The latest developments
- Russia’s Defense Ministry says some troops stationed near Ukraine are returning to bases after completing exercises.
- German Chancellor Olaf Schulz and Russian President Vladimir Putin are due to meet to ease tensions.
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson will chair the emergency meeting of the Cobra.
- Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the British “presence” in Kiev remained.
- EU High Representative Giuseppe Borrell said the European Union was ready to discuss Russia’s security concerns.
- Norway will increase its co-operation between 50 and 60 NATO troops in Lithuania.
- The Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida and the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen discussed the situation in Ukraine during a telephone call on Tuesday.
- The European Parliament has approved a 3 1.36 billion EU aid package for Ukraine.
- Ukraine has averted a terrible Russian attack as a result of its joint diplomatic efforts with Western allies.
No. 10 said Boris and Biden had agreed to stay in touch with the “order” of the situation.
Reports warn that 60% of Russia’s ground forces are under attack.
The prime minister cut short his visit to Scotland and went into hiding with the intelligence chiefs.
Mr Johnson warned: “This is a very, very dangerous, difficult situation. We are on the other side. The signs are … they are at least planning something for the next 48 hours.” Maybe. It’s very worrying. “
After chairing an emergency meeting of the Cobra, Ms Truss said the attack was imminent and urged all Britons to get out of there by any means.
Briefing members of parliament privately, the foreign secretary said he believed the attack was “very likely”. Mr Johnson will host further talks today for intelligence and military chiefs.
Ms Truss said this morning: “I am very worried about the situation. We may be on the brink of war in Europe.
“It will have serious consequences, not only for the people of Russia and Ukraine, but also for the greater security of Europe.”
“Vladimir Putin still has time to move on. But he has only a limited amount of time to do so.”
He warned that in the event of an attack, the Kremlin’s military might reach the capital Kiev “very, very soon” from neighboring Belarus.
Ms Truss said the city would “definitely” be a top priority.
And he said it was possible that Moscow would launch any attack with a “false flag operation” such as a mock attack on Russian separatists.
He asserted that his confession had been obtained through torture and that his confession had been obtained through torture.
“What we are doing is calling on the Russians to expose their attempts to establish a puppet government in Kiev.
“In the next few days, there may be an attempt to claim that the Ukrainians are attacking them, so the Russians have the right to attack.”
Armed Forces Minister James Happy said “all conditions have been set for the Russians to strike”, adding that it could be “without notice”.
He said: “This is not a warning about anything that could happen in three months. This is not a warning after which further warnings will be issued.
“If Russia takes control of the skies, an Afghan-style airport will be made impossible,” he said. Putin has formed 100 war groups on the border, up from 60 last month and 80 last week.
NATO leaders have been warned that 13 more are on their way. The figure of 100 was considered key to an attack that could simultaneously target Kiev and encircle Ukraine’s best forces in the east.
In all, 140,000 war-ready Russians are on its southern and eastern borders, of which 40,000 are engaged in exercises in northern Belarus.
Terrorists have also entered Ukraine and could kill and attack electricity and gas networks, sources fear.
Russian state TV has launched a propaganda campaign with wild claims that Ukrainian nationalists are about to massacre pro-Russians in the east – saying they will “kill and butcher you all, and your children.” Will be hung on wires. “
Similar tactics were used in 2014 to annihilate Russian support for Crimea’s annexation of Crimea and the occupation of land by pro-Russian forces in Donbass.
After further manipulative TV coverage, Putin allowed the cameras to film a bizarre exchange in which he planned to go to war.
In a clip hosted on stage, Putin asked his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, whether talks with the West would meet Russia’s demands or “drag on” forever.
Sitting at a long conference table, Lavrov said he would not allow “endless negotiations on the questions that demand a solution today.”
But he urged Putin to keep the door open, saying “there is always an opportunity.”
A British C17 transport plane flew in and out of Kiev yesterday to evacuate military personnel. The United States has said it is moving its embassy to Lviv, 340 miles west of Kiev – and has ordered the destruction of computers that could fall into Russian hands.
Olegrich is flying private jets. And insurers worry that they can no longer cover the risk of commercial flights.
German leader Olaf Schulz flew to Kiev today before his trip to Moscow to meet with Putin, in which the peace plea was “the last drop of the penny.”
But Putin has so far refused to comply with his demand that Ukraine be allowed to join NATO.