A Russian invasion of Ukraine is “very, very likely and very, very imminent”, Europe minister James Cleverly has said.
Cleverly said today that “at the moment, an attack, an invasion seems far more likely than unlikely but we will continue to work to try and avert that”.
Boris Johnson last night said Russia was planning the “biggest war in Europe since 1945” and that “all the signs are that the plan has already in some senses begun”.
US intelligence suggests that Russia has continued its troop build up on the Ukrainian border, despite the Kremlin’s claims last week that it was pulling away its military from these areas.
There are now an estimated 150,000 Russian troops massed along its neighbour’s border.
“An attack, an invasion, seems far more likely than unlikely but we will continue to work to try and avert that,” Cleverly told Sky News.
Johnson was yesterday at a Munich security conference along with other European leaders to discuss the Ukraine crisis.
Speaking to the BBC, Johnson said: “The fact is that all the signs are that the plan has already in some senses begun.
“That’s what our American friends think and you’re seeing these provocations now in Donbass, you’re starting to see these explosions and so on we’ve been warning about for a long time. The plan we’re seeing is for something that could be the biggest war in Europe since 1945 just in terms of sheer scale.”
US secretary of state Antony Blinken today said: “Everything we are seeing suggests that this is dead serious, that we are on the brink of an invasion. We will do everything we can to try to prevent it before it happens.
“Until the tanks are actually rolling, and the planes are flying, we will use every opportunity and every minute we have to see if diplomacy can still dissuade President Putin from carrying this forward.”
There has been increased violence in Ukraine’s east over the past few days, where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting Ukraine since 2014.
Separatist leaders ordered full military mobilisation yesterday, while a reported car bomb in pro-Moscow city Luhansk led to an explosion of a gas pipeline.
It has been claimed that this could be a part of a series of false flag attacks orchestrated by Moscow, which would see the Kremlin fake attacks on Russian targets as a pretext to invade Ukraine.
US intelligence has found that this is a strategy being considered by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky yesterday accused western leaders of a policy of “appeasement” toward Moscow.
“Ukraine has received security guarantees for abandoning the world’s third-largest nuclear arsenal. We have no weapons. And no security,” he said.
“But we have a right – a right to demand a shift from a policy of appeasement to one ensuring security and peace.
“For eight years, Ukraine has been a shield. For eight years, Ukraine has been holding back one of the greatest armies in the world.”