VLADIMIR Putin will order an attack on Ukraine early tomorrow morning – after intelligence agencies warned his withdrawal announcement could be a ruse.
Senior sources say preparations to defend the besieged nation will continue – and the most probable time for Putin’s order is 3am (1am UK time).
The Americans believe that Kyiv’s army and government command and control centers still have a series of air raids before the tanks roll across the border.
Today’s Russian language claims to be pull back about 10,000 troops from its west and south to the barracks after military exercises.
But about 130,000 people remain on Ukraine’s eastern and southern borders with about 40,000 pro-Putin forces in Belarus to the north.
Another 30,000 pro-Russian separatists are facing Ukrainian defense forces in the occupied Donbas area.
And preparations continued in Kyiv yesterday as air defense systems were seen moving into position alongside National Guard vehicle columns.
A military source said: “We cannot take anything that Russia says or does at face value. We have to be prepared to defend ourselves.”
Senior sources said a Moscow attack would be “almost certain from many points” on Ukraine’s southern, eastern and northern slopes.
It comes as Britain warns a Russian invasion of Ukraine is very, very likely, imminent and could become the biggest threat to security in Europe since World War Two.
Russia denies it is planning an invasion, but says it may take unspecified “military-technical” action unless a series of demands are met.
Liz Truss said the UK would need to see a full-scale movement of Russian troops away from the Ukrainian border to believe Moscow had no plans for an invasion.
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Asked about reports that some Russian troops are expected to return to bases, the foreign minister told LBC: “I have not seen the reports that you are referring to.
“Certainly, our latest intelligence suggests an invasion is imminent, the probability is very high, and we have seen 100,000 troops stationed around the border.
“Separately, the Russians have stated that they have no plans for an invasion, but we would need to see a total elimination of the army to show that is true.”
Meanwhile, Ukraine claims its diplomatic efforts with its Western allies have been successful.
Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told reporters today: “We and our allies have tried to prevent Russia from further escalation.
“It’s mid-February now, and you see that diplomacy is continuing to work.”
But Ms Truss said Britain and the West were still “preparing for the worst”.
A Western intelligence assessment revealed: “We expect multiple attacks in sequence, not a single attack.”
It can mean a surprise thrust against Kyiv, using precision attacks.
Other important cities will be surrounded by Putin’s tanks and troops while being bombarded by planes and helicopters.
Serious rating comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky declares tomorrow a day of reunification and urges its people to stand and sing the national anthem at 10 a.m.
“We don’t know how to give up and we won’t learn to do so,” he said. We believe in our own strength and will build the future together. We are united by love for Ukraine. “
It comes after Russia staged a series of new military deployments and war games near the Ukrainian border in recent days.
Shivering footage shows hundreds of paratroopers dropping from the sky during drills in the Kostrama region.
And more than 30 warplanes took part in naval exercises over the Black Sea to destroy simulated enemy submarines in the waters near Ukraine.
Last night, Boris Johnson held crisis talks with US President Joe Biden, after saying it was “quite clear” that Russia would invade within the next few days.
He warned that an invasion would lead to a “protracted crisis with far-reaching damage to both Russia and the world”.
- The Russian Defense Ministry says some troops deployed near Ukraine are returning to their bases after completing the drills.
- German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Russian President Vladimir Putin are about to meet to ease tensions
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson will lead an emergency meeting on Cobra
- Foreign Minister Liz Truss said there was continued British “presence” in Kyiv
- Top EU diplomat Josep Borrell says the European Union is ready to discuss Russia’s security concerns
- Norway will increase its contribution to Nato’s forces in Lithuania from 50 to 60 troops
- Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen discussed the situation in Ukraine during a phone call on Tuesday.
- The European Parliament approved the EU’s $1.36 billion aid package for Ukraine
- Ukraine’s joint diplomatic effort with its Western allies has managed to stave off a fearsome Russian invasion
But a Downing Street spokesman insisted there “remains an important window for diplomacy and for Russia to back down from threats to Ukraine”.
No10 said Boris and Biden had agreed to stay in touch as the situation “evolved”.
Reports warn that 60% of Russia’s ground forces are within striking range.
The Prime Minister cut short a tour of Scotland and met with spy chiefs.
This is a very, very dangerous, difficult situation. We are on the edge of a cliff. The signs are… at least they’re planning something that could happen in the next 48 hours. That is extremely worrisome.”
After chairing an emergency meeting on Cobra, Ms Truss said an invasion could be imminent and urged all Britons to evacuate in any way they could.
Speaking exclusively to MPs, the Secretary of State said she believed invasion was “highly likely”. Mr Johnson will hold further talks for intelligence and military officials later today.
Ms. Truss said this morning: “I am very worried about the situation. We could be on the verge of war in Europe.
“That would have serious consequences not only for the people of Russia and Ukraine, but also for the security of Europe at large.
“There is still time for Vladimir Putin to step off the cliff. But there is only a limited amount of time for him to do so.”
She warned that in the event of an invasion, Kremlin troops could reach the capital Kyiv “very, very quickly” from neighboring Belarus.
Ms. Truss said the city “definitely” would be a high-priority target.
And she said Moscow would likely initiate any attack with “false flag activity”, such as a mock attack against Russian separatists.
“There may be false claims that they were provoked to create an excuse for the Russian invasion,” she said.
“What we are doing is calling the Russians, we expose their efforts to put a puppet government in Kyiv.
“In the next few days, there may be an attempt to claim that the Ukrainians are attacking them, so the Russians have a reason to invade.”
https://www.the-sun.com/news/4689995/russia-set-invade-ukraine-tomorrow/ Russia ‘prepared to invade Ukraine at 1am tomorrow with a barrage of missiles and 200,000 troops’