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‘The Anglo-Saxons want war’: Russia blaim the West of inciting war as US spooks say Putin ‘has decided to invade Ukraine on WEDNESDAY’. Joe Biden will call Vladimir today as Brits and Americans are told to get out NOW

US President Joe Biden (pictured inset right) arranged an urgent call with his Russian counterpart (Putin pictured inset left) on Saturday to discuss the Ukraine crisis, after 'extremely detailed' invasion plans for an attack on Wednesday, seen by the Secret Service, CIA and the Pentagon, stoked fears of war in eastern Europe. Thousands of British, American and other European citizens - including many embassy staff - have now been told to get out of Ukraine while they still can, as they were warned there would be no military evacuation in the wake of a Russian attack. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken today said the crisis had reached a 'pivotal moment', adding that there continues to be 'very troubling signs of Russian escalation', including new forces arriving around Ukraine's borders. But the West's fears were branded 'alarmist' and a symptom of US 'hysteria' by leading Russian figures on Saturday - just as sabre-rattling drills were launched by Putin in Belarus and the Black Sea (pictured main, top right and left).

US President Joe Biden (pictured inset right) arranged an urgent call with his Russian counterpart (Putin pictured inset left) on Saturday to discuss the Ukraine crisis, after ‘extremely detailed’ invasion plans for an attack on Wednesday, seen by the Secret Service, CIA and the Pentagon, stoked fears of war in eastern Europe. Thousands of British, American and other European citizens – including many embassy staff – have now been told to get out of Ukraine while they still can, as they were warned there would be no military evacuation in the wake of a Russian attack. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken today said the crisis had reached a ‘pivotal moment’, adding that there continues to be ‘very troubling signs of Russian escalation’, including new forces arriving around Ukraine’s borders. But the West’s fears were branded ‘alarmist’ and a symptom of US ‘hysteria’ by leading Russian figures on Saturday – just as sabre-rattling drills were launched by Putin in Belarus and the Black Sea (pictured main, top right and left).

An insight report cautioned that Russian President Vladimir Putin expects to attack Ukraine on Wednesday
It comes as he enacted military drills in Belarus on Saturday, close by a significant ocean drill in the Black Sea
Be that as it may, Russian unfamiliar service representative said the West’s feeling of dread toward war originated from ‘White House mania’
Developing rundown of nations today encouraged residents to leave, including Germany, Netherlands, Kuwait and Belgium
Numerous international safe havens in Kyiv, including UK and US, will work skeleton groups as greater part of staff told to clear
Unfamiliar Office refreshed its recommendation to tell UK nationals to ‘leave now while business implies are as yet accessible’
English counsel came a day after US President Joe Biden encouraged all American residents to leave the country
The European Union on Friday told insignificant staff from its conciliatory mission in Ukraine to leave
Senior authority said that the US is sending 3,000 additional soldiers to Poland, to add to 1,700 as of now there
Russia has today put fears of a Ukraine intrusion on American ‘insanity’ and the ‘Old English Saxon requirement for battle’ after an insight report asserted Vladimir Putin is intending to send off an attack on the country on Wednesday.

US President Joe Biden will call his Russian partner on Saturday to examine the emergency, after the ‘incredibly point by point’ attack plans, seen by the Secret Service, CIA and the Pentagon, stirred up feelings of trepidation of battle in eastern Europe.
Huge number of British, American and other European residents – including numerous consulate staff – have now been told to escape Ukraine while they actually can, as they were cautioned there would be no tactical clearing following a Russian assault.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken today said the emergency had arrived at a ‘critical second’, adding that there keeps on being ‘extremely alarming indications of Russian heightening’, including new powers showing up around Ukraine’s boundaries.

Yet, the West’s feelings of dread were marked ‘doomsayer’ and a side effect of US ‘craziness’ by driving Russian figures on Saturday – similarly as saber-shaking drills were sent off by Putin in Belarus and the Black Sea.

The country’s unfamiliar service representative Maria Zakharova composed on Telegram: ‘The White House’s mania is more uncovering than any other time in recent memory. The Anglo-Saxons need a conflict. At all cost.

‘The incitements, disinformation and the dangers are their cherished technique for settling their own concerns.’

Anyway simultaneously, she uncovered Russia was diminishing strategic staff in Ukraine since it dreaded ‘incitements’ from the Kyiv specialists or ‘third nations’ – in another disturbing sign that an attack is edging nearer.

It has for some time been speculated that Russia could involve the shroud of an ‘assault’ in rebel-held, favorable to Russian regions as a reason to send in troops.

Ms Zakharova included: ‘the wake of potential incitements by the Kyiv system or third nations, we have, without a doubt, settled on a choice on some streamlining of the staff of Russian abroad missions in Ukraine.

‘We need to feature that our international safe haven and offices will continue to fill their fundamental roles.’

England clarified today that its international safe haven in Kyiv would stay open notwithstanding a decrease in staff, and travel guidance for all UK residents to leave in front of a dreaded Russian assault.

Envoy Melinda Simmons said:

‘I’m remaining in Kyiv and keep on working there with a center group. The government office stays functional.’

The US government office will likewise run on a skeleton team after it requested all non-crisis Kyiv international safe haven staff to pass on Saturday

‘because of the proceeded with danger of Russian military activity’.

Regardless of mounting fears, Russia’s minister to the US Anatoly Antonov told Newsweek magazine that admonitions of an intrusion were ‘doomsayer’ and rehashed that his nation was

‘not going to assault anybody.’

Yet, as per German paper Der Spiegel, the ‘February 16 attack’ plans were considered adequately tenable to be given to Biden’s administration, prior to being talked about in a progression of mystery briefings with NATO partners.

They are said to contain explicit courses that may be taken by individual Russian units and detail which jobs they could play in the contention. Der Speigel recommends the US is thinking about whether to disclose the plans in a bid to sabotage them.

The White House affirmed that Biden and Putin would talk about the emergency by telephone today – only hours after a huge number of Brits and Americans were cautioned to escape Ukraine while they actually can, as pressures arrived at limit in the midst of fears that Putin could send off an ‘flying barrage’ of Kiev, taking a chance with a high non military personnel loss of life.

The Netherlands, Kuwait, Germany and a few different nations have now advised their residents to leave, including Belgium, who on Saturday cautioned there would be ‘no assurance of clearing’ following a ‘unexpected disintegration’, as ‘correspondence joins including web and phone lines could be truly impacted’ and air travel hampered.

Pictures delivered today showed Russian and Belarusian powers testing snow-covered ‘typhoon’ and ‘cyclone’ rocket launcher frameworks, while a significant Russian ocean drill, including destructive warships, was sent off in the Black Sea.

Tobias Ellwood, the director of the Defense Select Committee, marked the Ukraine emergency ‘our Cuban rocket emergency second’ as he called for British-drove NATO divisions to be in the country.

The Conservative MP told Times Radio on Saturday: ‘An attack is inescapable. When that occurs, as a result of the grain the emerges from Ukraine for the world, (that will) influence food costs across the world.

he Conservative MP told Times Radio on Saturday: ‘An invasion is imminent. Once that happens, because of the grain the comes out of Ukraine for the world, (that will) affect food prices across the world.

Thousands of British, American and other European citizens - including many embassy staff - have now been told to get out of Ukraine while they still can, as they were warned there would be no military evacuation in the wake of a Russian attack. (Pictured: Hurricane rocket launcher during Russian-Belarusian drill on Saturday)

Thousands of British, American and other European citizens – including many embassy staff – have now been told to get out of Ukraine while they still can, as they were warned there would be no military evacuation in the wake of a Russian attack. (Pictured: Hurricane rocket launcher during Russian-Belarusian drill on Saturday)

It has long been suspected that Russia could use the cloak of an 'attack' in rebel-held, pro-Russian areas as an excuse to send in troops. (Pictured: Russian army artillery gunner during joint exercises of the armed forces of Russia and Belarus on Saturday)

It has long been suspected that Russia could use the cloak of an ‘attack’ in rebel-held, pro-Russian areas as an excuse to send in troops. (Pictured: Russian army artillery gunner during joint exercises of the armed forces of Russia and Belarus on Saturday)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned on Saturday that the Ukraine crisis had reached a 'pivotal moment', adding that there continues to be 'very troubling signs of Russian escalation', including new forces arriving around Ukraine's borders. (Pictured: 9K57 Uragan multiple rocket launchers fire during the Allied Resolve 2022 joint military drills by Belarusian and Russian troops on Saturday)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned on Saturday that the Ukraine crisis had reached a ‘pivotal moment’, adding that there continues to be ‘very troubling signs of Russian escalation’, including new forces arriving around Ukraine’s borders. (Pictured: 9K57 Uragan multiple rocket launchers fire during the Allied Resolve 2022 joint military drills by Belarusian and Russian troops on Saturday)
Snow camouflaged Tornado rocket launcher systems are put to the test in sub-zero Belarus on Saturday amid mounting fears of Ukraine invasion
An intelligence report has suggest Putin wants to invade Ukraine on Wednesday (Pictured: A serviceman takes aim during the Allied Resolve 2022 joint military drills by Belarusian and Russian troops)

An intelligence report has suggest Putin wants to invade Ukraine on Wednesday (Pictured: A serviceman takes aim during the Allied Resolve 2022 joint military drills by Belarusian and Russian troops)
Britain made clear today that its embassy in Kyiv would remain open despite a reduction in staff, and travel advice for all UK citizens to leave ahead of a feared Russian attack. (Pictured: Russian Tornado rocket launcher system during drill in Belarus)

Britain made clear today that its embassy in Kyiv would remain open despite a reduction in staff, and travel advice for all UK citizens to leave ahead of a feared Russian attack. (Pictured: Russian Tornado rocket launcher system during drill in Belarus)

Russian troops continue to amass along Ukraine's borders as US President Joe Biden prepares to call Vladimir Putin today (Pictured: 9K57 Uragan multiple rocket launchers fire during the Allied Resolve 2022 joint military drills by Belarusian and Russian troops)

Russian troops continue to amass along Ukraine’s borders as US President Joe Biden prepares to call Vladimir Putin today (Pictured: 9K57 Uragan multiple rocket launchers fire during the Allied Resolve 2022 joint military drills by Belarusian and Russian troops)
Brits, Americans and other Europeans living in Ukraine have been told to get out while they still can amid rising tensions (Pictured: Servicemen operate 9K57 Uragan multiple rocket launchers during Russian-Belarusian military drill on Saturday)

Brits, Americans and other Europeans living in Ukraine have been told to get out while they still can amid rising tensions (Pictured: Servicemen operate 9K57 Uragan multiple rocket launchers during Russian-Belarusian military drill on Saturday)
Servicemen operate 9K57 Uragan or 'hurricane' multiple rocket launchers during Russian-Belarusian military drill on Saturday

Servicemen operate 9K57 Uragan or ‘hurricane’ multiple rocket launchers during Russian-Belarusian military drill on Saturday
V-200 Polonez multiple launch rocket systems take part in the Allied Resolve 2022 joint military drills by Belarusian and Russian troops

V-200 Polonez multiple launch rocket systems take part in the Allied Resolve 2022 joint military drills by Belarusian and Russian troops

Belgians were warned on Saturday to leave Ukraine as there was ‘no guarantee of evacuation’ if Russia invades (Pictured: A 9K57 Uragan multiple rocket launcher takes part in the Allied Resolve 2022 joint military drills by Belarusian and Russian troops)

Soldier mounts a 'hurricane' rocket launcher system during drill in Belarus

Soldier mounts a ‘hurricane’ rocket launcher system during drill in Belarus
The Foreign Office this week updated its advice to tell UK nationals to 'leave now while commercial means are still available' (Pictured: A 9K57 Uragan multiple rocket launcher takes part in the Allied Resolve 2022 joint military drills by Belarusian and Russian troops)

The Foreign Office this week updated its advice to tell UK nationals to ‘leave now while commercial means are still available’ (Pictured: A 9K57 Uragan multiple rocket launcher takes part in the Allied Resolve 2022 joint military drills by Belarusian and Russian troops)
A 9K57 Uragan multiple rocket launcher takes part in the Allied Resolve 2022 joint military drills by Belarusian and Russian troops Saturday

A 9K57 Uragan multiple rocket launcher takes part in the Allied Resolve 2022 joint military drills by Belarusian and Russian troops Saturday
Russian soldier behind the wheel of a rocket launcher system during drills in Belarus on SaturdayRussian soldier behind the wheel of a rocket launcher system during drills in Belarus on Saturday
Scottish man fears ‘chaos’ as he tries to flee Ukraine with his family – as former ambassador warns not all Brits will get out

A Scottish man living in Ukraine has said he is concerned about ‘chaos’ as he tries to get his family out of the country quickly amid growing concerns that Russia could launch an invasion.

Stuart McKenzie told BBC Breakfast: ‘With young children in the country, I’ve got to take their safety as a priority so we’re definitely looking at how to get them out as soon as possible.

‘So many people are trying to leave at the same time and there won’t be flights, the roads will be blocked, are you going to be able to get fuel for your car? Is there going to be cash in the banking machines?

‘There could be so many things happening, so much chaos happening’.

He added: ‘Day to day, people are trying to get on with their lives, however, every day it seems that there’s more and more threats and we hear as soon as next week we could have Russian troops in the country.

‘These things can go out of control very fast so we’ve got to be on the right side of the chaos, because to think of a border with a million cars and panic happening would be disastrous’.

Former British ambassador to the US Lord Kim Darroch described the efforts the remaining embassy staff in Ukraine will have to go to in order to help Britons flee.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:

‘It will overwhelm the embassy’s resources, you can’t assume all the Brits in the country will hear this so you have to contact them.

‘You may have to arrange an emergency telephone line, you’ll need to send people to the airport where, with lots of foreign nationals trying to get out, there will be chaos, there may need to be extra flights laid on so this will occupy everyone’s time for 24 hours a day for the next few days and you won’t get everyone out – some people will choose to stay.’

‘Oil and gas prices will be affected as well, and European security will then be threatened further, so we have to ask ourselves, what should we do instead?

‘What are the calculations, and yes, there is this looking Putin in the eye wondering what would happen.

‘This is our Cuban missile crisis moment’.

He said the consequences of allowing Ukraine to fall would see a ‘new era of instability with a Russia and China axis developing’ while the West is ‘shrinking in size’ and authoritarianism is on the rise.

He added that he was ‘really concerned about what’s going on in No 10’ over the Ukraine crisis.

He criticized an absence of international leadership, saying: ‘Where is the United Nations Security Council resolutions? Where is the determination not to put Nato troops around the country as we’re doing at the moment, but actually inside the country as well…?

‘I know this is something that the MoD (Ministry of Defence) would like to do, but they are hampered by political resolve, by a political appetite to lean into this’.

He added that it would be ‘misguided’ to think sanctions against Russia would work, and that: ‘We haven’t understood the bigger strategic picture.’

‘I’m again really concerned about what’s going on in No 10,’ he said, ‘We’re playing catch-up and I’m afraid it’s all too late.’

It comes after the Foreign Office this week updated its advice to tell UK nationals to ‘leave now while commercial means are still available’ amid mounting concerns they could get caught up in fighting – including a deadly ‘aerial bombardment of Kiev’ – should Putin give the go-ahead to his 130,000 troops currently massed near Ukraine’s borders.

The urgent government update came less than 24 hours after the US also issued an evacuation order, as western analysts raised the alarm that Vladimir Putin was about to send in his forces.

The European Union also told non-essential staff from its diplomatic mission in Ukraine that they should leave the country, but stopped short of issuing a full evacuation order.

Meanwhile, armed forces minister James Heappey today said British troops helping with training in Ukraine will be leaving the country this weekend.

Having sent UK personnel to train Ukrainians on the anti-tank missiles supplied by Britain, Mr Heappey said:

‘All of them will be withdrawn. There will be no British troops in Ukraine if there is to be a conflict there.’

He said he hoped assurances from Moscow that Russia is not planning to invade remain true but noted the country could now launch an attack ‘very, very quickly’.

He told BBC Breakfast: ‘That’s not to say what Ben Wallace heard in Moscow yesterday may not be true. Clearly the only route to a peaceful outcome is if talks continue and I think if talks continue there has to be a willingness to believe what each side says to each other.

‘But my point is not mutually exclusive to observe there are now weapons systems and combat aircraft in place that could mount an attack very, very quickly and therefore we are doing what is appropriate to allow UK citizens in Ukraine to plan for the worst.’

Mr Heappey suggested sending British troops to Ukraine would play into the Kremlin’s hands, as he ruled out the prospect in event of war.

He added:

‘Putin and his colleagues would very much like to be able to say what they may do is a consequence of Western aggression in Ukraine.

‘So it’s very important to us, to everybody frankly involved, that we’re very clear we won’t play an active part in Ukraine.’

Pressed if there will be no UK combat troops in Ukraine in the event of war, he said: ‘It’s absolutely essential that people in Moscow hear that, yes.’

Pictured: The Russian and Belarusian armed forces take part in Allied Determination-2022 military drill in Belarus on February 10, 2022. Thousands of Britons were tonight told to leave Ukraine immediately over fears of an imminent invasion by Russian forces that Washington spy chiefs warned could be ordered in a matter of days

Pictured: The Russian and Belarusian armed forces take part in Allied Determination-2022 military drill in Belarus on February 10, 2022. Thousands of Britons were tonight told to leave Ukraine immediately over fears of an imminent invasion by Russian forces that Washington spy chiefs warned could be ordered in a matter of days
Videos purportedly showing atomic canons being moved towards Ukraine sparked fears Putin may be sending nuclear armed military hardware within striking distance of major cities. The video - showing huge 2S7 Pion guns (file photo) - was captured in Vesela Lopan, Bolgorod in Western Russia and just 10 miles from the Ukrainian border

Videos purportedly showing atomic canons being moved towards Ukraine sparked fears Putin may be sending nuclear armed military hardware within striking distance of major cities. The video – showing huge 2S7 Pion guns (file photo) – was captured in Vesela Lopan, Bolgorod in Western Russia and just 10 miles from the Ukrainian border

Britons have been told to leave Ukraine immediately over concerns of a possible invasion by Russian forces. Pictured: Servicemen of the armed forces of Russia and Belarus take part in joint military exercises in Belarus on Friday

Britons have been told to leave Ukraine immediately over concerns of a possible invasion by Russian forces. Pictured: Servicemen of the armed forces of Russia and Belarus take part in joint military exercises in Belarus on Friday
Pictured: Russian tanks during joint exercises of the armed forces of Russia and Belarus as part of an inspection of the Union State's Response Force, at a firing range in Belarus, February 11

Pictured: Russian tanks during joint exercises of the armed forces of Russia and Belarus as part of an inspection of the Union State’s Response Force, at a firing range in Belarus, February 11
Russia is holding massive war games in neighbouring Belarus and insisting that the highly strained relations is not its fault

Russia is holding massive war games in neighbouring Belarus and insisting that the highly strained relations is not its fault
The Foreign Office updated its advice on Friday evening to tell UK nationals to leave Ukraine 'now while commercial means are still available' as Russia intensified its war games on its borders with Ukraine

The Foreign Office updated its advice on Friday evening to tell UK nationals to leave Ukraine ‘now while commercial means are still available’ as Russia intensified its war games on its borders with Ukraine
This handout video grab released by the Russian Defence Ministry on February 11, 2022 shows tanks during joint exercises of the armed forces of Russia and Belarus

This handout video grab released by the Russian Defence Ministry on February 11, 2022 shows tanks during joint exercises of the armed forces of Russia and Belarus
Russia is operationally ready to conduct a wide range of military operations in Ukraine and the Kremlin just needs to make the call, the head of Norway's military intelligence service said Friday. Pictured: The Russian and Belarusian armed forces take part in Allied Determination-2022 military drill in Belarus on February 11

Russia is operationally ready to conduct a wide range of military operations in Ukraine and the Kremlin just needs to make the call, the head of Norway’s military intelligence service said Friday. Pictured: The Russian and Belarusian armed forces take part in Allied Determination-2022 military drill in Belarus on February 11

Pictured: Still grabs from video purportedly showing atomic canons, sparking fears Putin may be sending nuclear armed military hardware to its borders with Ukraine

US soldiers line up during the visit of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Mihail Kogalniceanu airbase, near the Black Sea port city of Constanta, eastern Romania, Friday, Feb. 11, 2022

Military aid in the form of missiles delivered as part of the United States of America's security assistance to Ukraine, is unloaded from a plane at the Boryspil International Airport outside Kyiv, Ukraine February 11, 2022

Military aid in the form of missiles delivered as part of the United States of America’s security assistance to Ukraine, is unloaded from a plane at the Boryspil International Airport outside Kyiv, Ukraine February 11, 2022

Tory MP Tom Tugendhat said the Ukrainian military is ‘increasingly capable to defend themselves’ and advised that Britain training them up is better assistance than sending troops.

The chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘We’re enabling them to have the ability to fight themselves, and having served in combat in countries around the world I can tell you that training local forces to fight for themselves is a significantly better defensive technique than putting troops in.

‘The reality is that the Ukrainians already have some 145,000 in their army, they have another – depending on how you count – 100-odd thousand border guard reserves and people like that so they have a significantly larger army even than we do and they are increasingly capable to defend themselves.’

But looking to assuage fears of World War Three, former cabinet minister Sir Malcolm Rifkind said he is ‘sceptical’ that Russia will launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

He told Times Radio: ‘I look at Putin not as a wild fanatic; he’s not an Adolf Hitler about to launch all-out war just for the sheer nastiness of it.

‘He’s a cool, calculating politician who resents the fact that Ukraine is independent; he would like to regain control, either physical control or political control of that country.

‘But he knows that he has to carry Russian public opinion with him, and why I’m sceptical as to a full-scale invasion.

‘That would involve, even if the Russians were to win, that would involve not just immediate but ongoing, serious casualties of Russian forces as the Ukrainians fought back.’

The former Tory foreign secretary and defense secretary added that there was ‘still a serious possibility’ that Russian President Vladimir Putin might send troops into part of the country, which would most likely be the land bridge between Donbas and Crimea.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he would speak to Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Saturday  in a last-ditch attempt to head off a possible invasion.

‘We continue to see very troubling signs of Russian escalation, including new forces arriving around Ukraine’s borders,’ Blinken said in a press conference in Fiji.

‘If Russia is genuinely interested in resolving this crisis of its own making through diplomacy and dialogue, we’re prepared to do that,’ he said.

‘But it must take place in the context of de-escalation. So far, we’ve only seen escalation from Moscow,’

he said.

‘This is a pivotal moment. We’re prepared for whatever should happen,’ he said.

The top US diplomat reiterated that Washington and its allies will ‘swiftly’ impose punishing sanctions on Russia if it invades Ukraine, which he said could now start ‘at any time’.

‘We don’t know whether President Putin has made that decision,’ he said.

‘But we do know that he has put in place the capacity to act on very short notice.’

On Friday, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Washington believes Vladimir Putin could invade Ukraine any day, and issued a warning to Americans in the country: Get out immediately because the U.S. will not be coming back to rescue anyone.

‘We encourage all American citizens who remain in Ukraine to depart immediately,’

Sullivan said.

‘We want to be crystal clear on this point.

‘Any American in Ukraine should leave as soon as possible and in any event in the next 24 to 48 hours.

‘The risk is now high enough and the threat is now immediate enough that this is what prudence demands.

‘If you stay you are assuming risk, with no guarantee that there will be any other opportunity to leave and there is no prospect of a U.S. military evacuation in the event of a Russian invasion.’

Further to this, PBS reporter Nick Schifrin tweeted on Friday: ‘US officials anticipate a horrific, bloody campaign that begins with two days of aerial bombardment and electronic warfare, followed by an invasion, with the possible goal of regime change.’

And late on Friday night, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko urgently warned the city’s citizens about the danger of a Russian attack.

The former heavyweight boxing champion’s statement – the first serious warning to the city’s population- was issued late last night on social media.

The mayor released a statement on Telegram about preparations underway in case of attack.

They included securing communications in case the internet or phone network went down, increasing bomb shelter capacity, stockpiling fuel & agreeing plans for evacuation.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson voiced fears ‘for the security of Europe’ during a call with world leaders, including US President Joe Biden, whilst in a sign of the increasing tensions, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss was yesterday involved in testy exchanges with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow.

British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, who is currently in Russia, warned an invasion could come ‘at any time’, echoing Washington’s warnings that the Kremlin has amassed enough troops at the border to call an attack.

Meanwhile, videos purportedly showing atomic canons being moved towards Ukraine sparked fears Putin may be sending nuclear armed military hardware within striking distance of major cities.

The video – showing huge 2S7 Pion guns – was captured in Vesela Lopan, Bolgorod in Western Russia and just 10 miles from the Ukrainian border, according to The Sun.

Known as the ‘Soviet atomic cannon’, the devastating weapon is one of the most powerful artillery cannons ever built.

It can carry up to four 203 mm nuclear shells, which have the potential to annihilate large areas.

In a chilling press conference earlier this week, Putin warned that were Ukraine to join NATO, the risk of nuclear war would increase.

Russia has demanded that the alliance completely rules out Ukraine from ever joining.

In the FCDO’s updated advice, the government has said: ‘British nationals in Ukraine should leave now while commercial means are still available.

‘Since January 2022, the build-up of Russian forces on Ukraine’s borders has increased the threat of military action.

‘The Embassy remains open but will be unable to provide in-person consular assistance. British nationals should leave while commercial options remain.’

A Foreign Office spokesman said: ‘The safety and security of British nationals is our top priority, which is why we have updated our travel advice.

‘We urge British nationals in Ukraine to leave now via commercial means while they remain available.’

According to The Guardian, sources said the UK is not preparing an emergency airlift for British citizens because there are still commercial flights operating daily and the land border with Poland is open.

It is believed that the number of British citizens in Ukraine is in the low thousands, but many have strong ties to the country and are unlikely to leave.

The Foreign office’s advice comes a day after US President Joe Biden urged all American citizens to leave the country.

Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Latvia, Norway and the Netherlands also told their citizens to leave Ukraine immediately, while Israel said it was evacuating relatives of embassy staff.

The White House said Friday that a Russian invasion of Ukraine could come within the week, possibly within the next two days, and urged Americans to leave the country now.

A call between Biden and Putin will take place on Saturday, a US official said Friday night, as top US General Mark Milley spoke by telephone with his Russian counterpart General Valery Gerasimo.

The pair ‘discussed several security-related issues of concern,’ an official said.

Meanwhile, a senior official said that the US is sending 3,000 more troops to Poland, as President Biden met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other world leaders on Friday to brief them on developments.

The new wave of US troops join 1,700 who already are assembling there to support NATO allies.

A Ukrainian tank moves during military drills close to Kharkiv, Ukraine, Thursday, February 10, 2022A Ukrainian tank moves during military drills close to Kharkiv, Ukraine, Thursday, February 10, 2022
Yesesterday, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss was involved in testy exchanges with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, with no sign of a diplomatic breakthrough
US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the United States did not have definitive information that an invasion has been ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin, but Washington warned that he has now amassed the necessary forces

US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the United States did not have definitive information that an invasion has been ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin, but Washington warned that he has now amassed the necessary forces
Admiral Tony Radakin (L) and Chief of the General Staff General Valery Gerasimov (R) shake hands as UK Secretary of State for Defence, Ben Wallace (2nd L), and Defence Minister of the Russian Federation, Sergei Shoigu (2nd R), look on inside the Russian Ministry of Defence building on February 11, 2022 in Moscow

The Foreign Office’s advice to Britons in Ukraine 

The Foreign Office said on its website on Friday:  ‘Since January 2022, the build-up of Russian forces on Ukraine’s borders has increased the threat of military action.

‘The Embassy remains open but will be unable to provide in-person consular assistance. British nationals should leave while commercial options remain.

‘If you are in need of assistance to leave Ukraine, you should call +380 44 490 3660 or +44 (0)1908 516666 and select the option for ‘consular services for British nationals’.

‘Any Russian military action in Ukraine would severely affect the British Embassy Kyiv’s ability to provide any consular assistance.

‘British Nationals should not expect increased consular support or help with evacuating in these circumstances.

‘If you decide to remain in Ukraine, you should remain vigilant throughout due to potential combat operations, keep your departure plans under constant review and ensure your travel documents are up to date.

‘You should monitor the media and this travel advice regularly, subscribe to email and read our advice on how to deal with a crisis overseas.’

They are the remaining elements of an infantry brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division. A further 8,500 U.S. troops are already on alert.

It also emerged on Friday that U.S. and European officials are finalizing an extensive package of sanctions if Russia invades Ukraine that targets major Russian banks, but does not include banning Russia from the SWIFT financial system, according to U.S. and European officials.

A diplomatic source said the strategy now was to intensify efforts to spell out the cost to Putin of invasion.

‘The message has to be that he cannot win,’

the source told DailyMail.com.

US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the United States did not have definitive information that an invasion has been ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But he said all the pieces were in place for a major military operation that could start ‘rapidly’.

‘The risk is high enough and the threat is now immediate enough that prudence demands that it is the time to leave now,’ Mr Sullivan said.

‘We are not saying that a decision has been taken by President Putin,’ Mr Sullivan added.

‘What we are saying is that we have a sufficient level of concern based on what we are seeing on the ground, and what our intelligence analysts have picked up, that we are sending this clear message.’

He added that the possibility of an invasion taking place before the end of the Winter Olympics on February 20 is a ‘credible prospect’ and a ‘very, very distinct possibility’.

US and EU finalizing sanctions package should Russia invade Ukraine 

U.S. and European officials are finalizing an extensive package of sanctions if Russia invades Ukraine that targets major Russian banks, but does not include banning Russia from the SWIFT financial system, according to U.S. and European officials.

The sanctions on the table also include export controls on components produced by Russia for the tech and weapons sectors, and sanctions against specific Russian oligarchs, according to three sources familiar with the discussions.

One U.S. official said the Russian banks targeted with sanctions could include state-backed VTB and Sberbank, the largest financial institutions in Russia.

Both institutions are already subject to sectoral sanctions imposed by the Treasury Department after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region that limit their ability to raise capital in the United States, but the full blocking sanctions in sight now would have far more significant consequences, said one sanctions expert.

They would likely be accompanied by certain waivers and wind-down periods to limit harm to U.S. companies and those of allies.

Three sources familiar with the talks said banning Russia entirely from the SWIFT financial transaction system was not under active consideration after running into major objections from European countries.

European lenders have expressed concern that banning Russia from SWIFT would mean that billions of dollars of outstanding loans they have in Russia would not be repaid.

Sanctions against major Russian banks would still have a significant impact on the Russian financial sector and economy, one of the sources said. VTB and Sberbank’s share prices have been volatile in recent weeks, as investors worry Washington could ban Americans from holding debt or equity in the institutions.

‘The goal is to design sanctions that would really hit the Russians while keeping an eye on the collateral damage to those imposing them, recognizing that sanctions would clearly hit Europe harder,’ said one of the sources.

U.S. officials said strong progress was made on the sanctions package during meetings with their counterparts in Germany, France and Britain this week.

The U.S. and European allies have focused on sanctions that would be imposed in the event of a physical Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to U.S. and European officials. They would need to coordinate further on any sanctions response short of a full military invasion, such as big cyber attack.

‘A lot of the issues have been resolved,’ said one U.S. official familiar with the talks, adding, ‘I wouldn’t say there’s 100% agreement, but most of the concerns raised’ by Germany in particular have been addressed.

Visiting German chancellor Olaf Scholz said in Washington Monday he was aligned with the United States on actions on Russia, but did not mention the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline that the U.S. has vowed to shut of Russia invades.

 He said new Russian forces were arriving at the border and they are in a position to ‘mount a major military operation in Ukraine any day now’, which could include a ‘rapid assault on the city of Kyiv’ or on other parts of the country.

Speaking from the White House, Mr Sullivan said Russia could choose ‘in very short order to commence a major military action against Ukraine’, but stressed the US does not know whether Mr Putin has made a final decision.

Mr Sullivan said the ‘threat is now immediate enough’ to urge Americans to leave Ukraine ‘as soon as possible and in any event in the next 24 to 48 hours’.

He did not mince words for those who choose to remain: ‘The president will not be putting the lives of our men and women in uniform at risk by sending them into a war zone to rescue people who could have left now but chose not to.’

Sullivan spoke shortly after Biden and six European leaders, the heads of NATO and the European Union held talks on the worst crisis between the West and Russia since the end of the Cold War.

In a call lasting around 80 minutes, Downing Street said Mr Johnson urged Nato allies to make it clear to Moscow there is a ‘heavy package of economic sanctions ready to go’.

‘The Prime Minister told the group that he feared for the security of Europe in the current circumstances,’ a No 10 spokeswoman said, in an account of the call that included French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg, as well as EU leaders Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel.

Mr Johnson warned that the penalties would be ‘extremely damaging’ to Russia’s economy and urged that allies must reinforce Nato’s eastern frontiers.

Russia is holding massive war games in neighbouring Belarus and insisting that the highly strained relations is not its fault.

Moscow denies planning to invade Ukraine, but says it could take unspecified ‘military-technical’ action unless a series of demands are met, including promises from NATO never to admit Ukraine and to withdraw forces from Eastern Europe.

The West has said those main demands are non-starters. The EU and NATO alliance delivered responses this week on behalf of their member states.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it wanted individual answers from each country, and called the collective response ‘a sign of diplomatic impoliteness and disrespect’.

The U.S. is set to send 3,000 more troops to Poland in the coming days to try to reassure NATO allies, fource U.S. officials told Reuters news agency on Friday.

Earlier, Mr Blinken outlined what he said were ‘very troubling signs of Russian escalation.

‘We’re in a window when an invasion could begin at any time – and to be clear, that includes during the Olympics,’ he said.

Britain’s Defence Secretary Ben Wallace Friday warned Russia that an invasion of Ukraine will have ‘tragic consequences’ as he continued the diplomatic blitz in Moscow.

He stressed the importance of keeping lines of communication open as he held talks with counterpart Sergei Shoigu.

Officials reportedly believe that the Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to invade Ukraine and could launch an offensive next week. Above: A Ukrainian soldier is seen manning defensive positions in his country on Friday

A Ukrainian soldier is seen out of Svitlodarsk, Ukraine on February 11, 2022
US Navy fighter jets fly during the visit of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Mihail Kogalniceanu airbase, near the Black Sea port city of Constanta, eastern Romania, Friday, Feb. 11, 2022

US Navy fighter jets fly during the visit of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Mihail Kogalniceanu airbase, near the Black Sea port city of Constanta, eastern Romania, Friday, Feb. 11, 2022
British nationals have been urged by the Foreign Office to leave Ukraine immediately ‘while commercial means are still available’. Pictured: A Russian tank takes part in drills in a photograph released by the Russian Defense Ministry

At a press conference after the meeting Mr Wallace said he had been assured that Russia has ‘no intention’ of invading – but pointed out that the huge military build-up on the border meant it could do so ‘at any time’.

‘I heard clearly from the Russian government that they had no intention of invading Ukraine,’ Wallace told reporters in Moscow. He added: ‘We will judge that statement on the evidence.’

He said he was becoming less optimistic about defusing the situation, observing that the ‘direction of travel’ was against a diplomatic resolution.

But Mr Wallace also insisted there was ‘absolutely no deafness’ in his discussions, after Moscow’s foreign minister swiped about his ‘deaf and mute’ conversation with Liz Truss yesterday.

The trip is the latest effort to turn down the temperature on the crisis and persuade Vladimir Putin to step back from the brink.

Talks in Berlin between Ukraine and Russia, joined by France and Germany, at first held hope for some progress as they lasted into Friday morning, but at the end, nothing palpable emerged.

‘Unfortunately, almost nine hours of talks have ended without any significant results,’

Russian deputy chief of staff Dmitry Kozak said. It remained unclear when and how the next attempt at a breakthrough would be made.

President Biden said the situation ‘could go crazy quickly’ and US troops will not be sent to help because that risks triggering a world war.

The head of Norway’s military intelligence service said on Friday that Russia’s forces are in position and ready to invade Ukraine.   

The Russians

‘have all they need to carry everything out, from a minor invasion in the east to minor attacks here and there in Ukraine, or a complete invasion, with, possibly, an occupation of all or parts of Ukraine’,

vice admiral Nils Andreas Stensones said.

‘Now, it is up to President Putin to choose if he wants to proceed or not’, he added.

Stensones made his remarks at the presentation of the Norwegian intelligence services’ annual threat assessment report.

According to him, Russia has ‘more than 150,000 combat troops’ massed at the Ukraine border, along with the country’s ‘most advanced weapons’ and all the necessary logistics.

A satellite image taken by Maxar Technologies shows a Russian deployment at Zyabrovka airfield in Gomel, Belarus, less than 15 miles from the border with Ukraine

A satellite image taken by Maxar Technologies shows a Russian deployment at Zyabrovka airfield in Gomel, Belarus, less than 15 miles from the border with Ukraine

This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows an overview of a the tent camp and equipment at Oktyabrskoye airfield in Crimea, on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022

This satellite image released by Maxar Technologies shows equipment and new deployments at Novoozernoye in Crimea on February 9, 2022
This satellite image released by Maxar Technologies shows atillery training at Novoozernoye in Crimea on February 9, 2022
British man with wife in Ukraine feels ‘worried’ for her safety 

A British man has said he feels ‘worried’ for the safety of his wife in Ukraine after the Foreign Office advised UK nationals to leave the country on Friday.

Gary Smith, 53, moved back to Newcastle for work in August after living in Ukraine for two years with his wife, who is a lecturer at a university there.

He told the PA news agency:

‘I am just hoping and praying that there isn’t an invasion. If there is, a lot of lives will be lost.

‘My wife said to me the other week ‘I don’t want to be killed.’ What are you supposed to say to that?

‘I moved back to the UK to make a life for us here and she was meant to join me within the next year.

‘If this happens it could end up being three or four years before I can see her again.’

U.S.-based Maxar Technologies – which has been tracking the buildup of Russian forces – said satellite images taken on Wednesday and Thursday showed large new deployments of troops, vehicles and warplanes at several locations in western Russia, Belarus and Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

According to the Military Times, 500 troop tents and hundreds of armoured vehicles were shown at Oktyabrskoye airfield – an abandoned airfield found north of Simferopol, the Crimean peninsula’s second largest city.

Other images showed training activities, artillery deployments and a new deployment in Slavne, also in Crimea.

And north of Ukraine in Belarus, military vehicles and helicopters were also identified at an airfield near Gomel, about 15 miles from its border with its southern neighbor.

Troops are also stationed near Rechitsa in Belarus, some 28 miles from Ukraine.

The satellite images also showed additional equipment had arrived at a Kursk training area in western Russia – a new development since Maxar began releasing images of Russia’s military build-up in December.

Conflict has been festering in eastern Ukraine since 2014 between Russian-backed separatists and Kyiv forces.

UK envoys bring gifts before talks in Kremlin

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Admiral Tony Radakin arrived in Moscow yesterday with gifts for their counterparts ahead of a day of meetings.

Sir Tony, the Chief of the General Staff, presented his opposite number General Valery Gerasimov with a piece of iron from the mast of HMS Belfast, which took part in the Arctic convoys supplying Russia in the Second World War.

In 2010 Russia paid for the ship, berthed in London, to be refitted. The admiral also brought a framed print of an etching depicting General Gerasimov’s home city of Kazan.

Mr Wallace brought General Sergey Shoygu, the Kremlin defence minister, a Scots Guards sword and Scottish whisky. Mr Wallace served as an officer in the Scots Guards.

In return, Mr Wallace was given British medals from the Crimean War, a plaque and a bottle of whisky. Sir Tony received military lamps.

Moscow has announced sweeping drills in the Black and Azov seas in the coming days and closed large areas for commercial shipping, drawing a strong protest from Ukraine on Thursday.

Russian naval forces and troops, including units brought in from all over the vast country, now surround Ukraine to the south, east and north.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba voiced hope that the West would react to the Russian move, saying that ‘we have engaged our partners to prepare a coordinated response.’

Ukraine’s military chief, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, reported to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Friday that the authorities plan to quickly engage 1.5 million to 2 million people in training for the army reserve.

Russia’s troop concentration includes forces deployed on the territory of its ally Belarus for massive joint drills involving firing live ammunition.

The UK has put 1,000 troops on standby in case of a humanitarian crisis in the east if the current Russian military build-up leads to war.

It has also pledged extra help for NATO allies, with 350 Royal Marines arriving in Poland to coincide with the Prime Minister’s visit on Thursday.

Russia has insisted it has no plans to invade Ukraine but NATO is alarmed by the build-up of more than 100,000 troops on the borders with its neighbour.

Mr Wallace told a press conference on Friday afternoon: ‘I was clear about the tragic consequences that any invasion of Ukraine could have for all people – both Ukrainian, Russian and the security of Europe.

‘We listened to the assurances given by minister Shoigu that they would not invade Ukraine and we urged dialogue as a way through to address any concerns the Russian Government may have.’

Ben Wallace
Sergei Shoigu

Ben Wallace (left) met his counterpart Sergei Shoigu (right) in an attempt to quell the crisis in eastern Europe

The trip follows Boris Johnson’s visits to Belgium and Poland yesterday, where he insisted Vladimir Putin (pictured) must not be allowed to ‘bully’ the region
The Russians 'have all they need to carry everything out, from a minor invasion in the east to minor attacks here and there in Ukraine, or a complete invasion, with, possibly, an occupation of all or parts of Ukraine', Norway's vice admiral Nils Andreas Stensones said on Friday

The Russians ‘have all they need to carry everything out, from a minor invasion in the east to minor attacks here and there in Ukraine, or a complete invasion, with, possibly, an occupation of all or parts of Ukraine’, Norway’s vice admiral Nils Andreas Stensones said on Friday
According to Stensones, Russia has 'more than 150,000 combat troops' massed at the Ukraine border, along with the country's 'most advanced weapons' and all the necessary logistics

According to Stensones, Russia has ‘more than 150,000 combat troops’ massed at the Ukraine border, along with the country’s ‘most advanced weapons’ and all the necessary logistics
Pictured: The Russian and Belarusian armed forces take part in Allied Determination-2022 military drill in Belarus on February 11, 2022

Pictured: The Russian and Belarusian armed forces take part in Allied Determination-2022 military drill in Belarus on February 11, 2022

But Mr Wallace said: ‘The disposition of the (Russian) forces that we see, over 100,000 in both Belarus and Ukraine, obviously gives that size of force the ability to do a whole range of actions, including an invasion of a neighbouring country at any time.

Russia could launch invasion ‘at any time’, U.S. Secretary of State says 

Russia has sent more forces to its border with Ukraine and could launch an invasion at any time including during the Winter Olympics, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday.

Blinken, who has been leading negotiations with Moscow over the troop build-up, said Washington is continuing to ‘draw down’ its embassy in Ukraine and urged American citizens still in the country to leave immediately.

‘Simply put, we continue to see very troubling signs of Russian escalation, including new forces arriving at the Ukrainian border,’ Blinken told a news conference in the Australian city of Melbourne.

‘As we’ve said before, we’re in a window when an invasion could begin at any time, and to be clear, that includes during the Olympics.’

The Beijing Games end on Feb. 20.

Joe Biden had earlier echoed the same call for Americans to get out now, saying the situation ‘could go crazy quickly’ and US troops will not be sent to help because that risks triggering a world war.

‘It’s not like we’re dealing with a terrorist organization. We’re dealing with one of the largest armies in the world.

‘That’s a world war when Americans and Russia start shooting at one another.

His comments come as another 130 tons of U.S. weapons – including Javelin anti-tank missiles – arrived in Ukraine on Thursday night in response to the 120,000 Russian troops amassed along the country’s border.

‘We obviously have made it very clear in Nato that an invasion would have tragic consequences, and we are here and I’m here today, for example, to seek a way of whatever we can to de-escalate that tension.

‘I heard clearly from the Russian government that they had no intention of invading Ukraine.’

In a downbeat assessment, Mr Wallace said: ‘I think the direction of travel has been against the direction of the diplomatic travel over the last few weeks.

‘We’ve seen continued build-up of forces as we’ve seen a build up of diplomacy, and you would hope that, actually… one goes up, one goes down – and I think that is why my optimism is not as (optimistic) as I used to be, or can be.

‘And I’m hoping that the beginning today is an effort to try and see if there is a way forward to make sure we do de-escalate.

‘We’ll keep trying. I think the international community is trying very hard – obviously President Macron’s visit, Prime Minister Johnson spoke to President Putin… recently as well. And indeed, I think the new Chancellor of Germany is coming to visit next week.

‘I think it is very important that we give the Russian government, give them all a chance to provide the reassurance they are seeking about the intentions of Nato, but also to give us the airtime to hear from them their assurances that they have no intention of invading Ukraine as well.’

He said there was ‘absolutely no deafness or blindness’ in his talks with Mr Shoigu, characterizing them as ‘constructive and frank’ discussions which he hopes will create a better atmosphere between the two sides.

Asked about Mr Lavrov’s characterization of his meeting with Liz Truss as a conversation between ‘deaf and dumb’, Mr Wallace said: ‘I think minister Lavrov is a master at these types of engagements and making those types of comments.

‘In our discussion there was absolutely no deafness or blindness, we as defense ministers bear the responsibility of the consequences of what happens in conflict.

‘We deal with the facts and we deal with the issues we have because it is in both our interests to resolve that.

‘I think we have had a constructive and frank discussion and I hope it has contributed to a better atmosphere but also to de-escalation, but there is still considerable way to go between the two of us.’

US President Joe Biden announced last week that he was sending 1,000 soldiers to Romania and 2,000 to Poland.

Those arriving in Romania are being transferred from a base in Germany.

Spanish Eurofighter Typhoon fighters arrived in Bulgaria on Friday as part of efforts to secure NATO's eastern flank

Spanish Eurofighter Typhoon fighters arrived in Bulgaria on Friday as part of efforts to secure NATO’s eastern flank
The aircraft with 130 Spanish personnel will be stationed at the southern Graf Ignatievo air base and "perform enhanced air policing tasks" with the Bulgarian air force until March 31, the Bulgaria's defence ministry said in a statement

The aircraft with 130 Spanish personnel will be stationed at the southern Graf Ignatievo air base and ‘perform enhanced air policing tasks’ with the Bulgarian air force until March 31, the Bulgaria’s defence ministry said in a statement

France’s President Emmanuel Macron has also said he’s ready to send hundreds of troops to Romania under NATO command.

Romania, a NATO member since 2004, already hosts around 900 US troops, as well as 140 Italian and 250 Polish troops.

Bulgaria, Romania’s southern neighbour, said four Spanish Eurofighter Typhoon fighters arrived Friday as part of efforts to secure NATO’s eastern flank.

The aircraft with 130 Spanish personnel will be stationed at the southern Graf Ignatievo air base and ‘perform enhanced air policing tasks’ with the Bulgarian air force until March 31, the Bulgaria’s defense ministry said in a statement.

As a NATO member, Bulgaria is required to keep at least one squadron of 12 aircraft in good fighting order.

But the inability to maintain enough of its ageing fleet of Soviet-built MiG-29 fighters prompted Sofia in 2016 to authorize NATO to help protect its airspace.

Ben Wallace warns Putin’s generals of ‘tragic consequences’ during Moscow talks as he says military build-up means Russia could invade Ukraine ‘at any time’ – but insists he is listening after foreign minister’s ‘deaf and mute’ barb at Liz Truss yesterday

Ben Wallace Friday warned Russia that an invasion of Ukraine will have ‘tragic consequences’ as he continued the diplomatic blitz in Moscow.

The Defence Secretary stressed the importance of keeping lines of communication open as he held talks with counterpart Sergei Shoigu.

At a press conference after the meeting Mr Wallace said he had been assured that Russia has ‘no intention’ of invading – but pointed out that the huge military build-up on the border meant it could do so ‘at any time’.

He said he was becoming less optimistic about defusing the situation, observing that the ‘direction of travel’ was against a diplomatic resolution.

But Mr Wallace also insisted there was ‘absolutely no deafness’ in his discussions, after Moscow’s foreign minister swiped about his ‘deaf and mute’ conversation with Liz Truss yesterday.

The trip is the latest effort to turn down the temperature on the crisis and persuade Vladimir Putin to step back from the brink.

US president Joe Biden is holding a call with Mr Johnson and other Western leaders to take stock of the situation later.

The head of Norway’s military intelligence service has warned Russia is operationally ready to conduct a wide range of military operations in Ukraine, and the Kremlin just needs to make the call.

Boris Johnson visited Belgium and Poland yesterday, where he insisted Vladimir Putin must not be allowed to ‘bully’ the region and warned Europe faces its biggest security crisis in decades.

Meanwhile, Ms Truss was involved in testy exchanges with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, with no sign of a breakthrough.

It comes as the Government confirmed preparations to allow the UK to ‘toughen and expand’ its sanctions against Russia have come into force.

The UK could now impose sanctions on Russian businesses and individuals in a range of significant sectors, such as the chemical, defence, extractives, ICT and financial services industries.

Russia has insisted it has no plans to invade Ukraine but NATO is alarmed by the build-up of more than 100,000 troops on the borders with its neighbour.

Mr Wallace told a press conference this afternoon: ‘I was clear about the tragic consequences that any invasion of Ukraine could have for all people – both Ukrainian, Russian and the security of Europe.

‘We listened to the assurances given by minister Shoigu that they would not invade Ukraine and we urged dialogue as a way through to address any concerns the Russian Government may have.’

But Mr Wallace said: ‘The disposition of the (Russian) forces that we see, over 100,000 in both Belarus and Ukraine, obviously gives that size of force the ability to do a whole range of actions, including an invasion of a neighbouring country at any time.

‘Mainly because of the readiness it is now at, it is an active, obviously, exercise, certainly in Belarus, and of course that is an option that those forces could have.

‘I heard clearly from the Russian government that they had no intention of invading Ukraine.’

In a downbeat assessment, Mr Wallace said: ‘I think the direction of travel has been against the direction of the diplomatic travel over the last few weeks.

‘We’ve seen continued build-up of forces as we’ve seen a build up of diplomacy, and you would hope that, actually… one goes up, one goes down – and I think that is why my optimism is not as (optimistic) as I used to be, or can be.

‘And I’m hoping that the beginning today is an effort to try and see if there is a way forward to make sure we do de-escalate.

‘We’ll keep trying. I think the international community is trying very hard – obviously President Macron’s visit, Prime Minister Johnson spoke to President Putin… recently as well. And indeed, I think the new Chancellor of Germany is coming to visit next week.

‘I think it is very important that we give the Russian government, give them all a chance to provide the reassurance they are seeking about the intentions of Nato, but also to give us the airtime to hear from them their assurances that they have no intention of invading Ukraine as well.’

He said there was ‘absolutely no deafness or blindness’ in his talks with Mr Shoigu, characterising them as ‘constructive and frank’ discussions which he hopes will create a better atmosphere between the two sides.

Asked about Mr Lavrov’s characterisation of his meeting with Liz Truss as a conversation between ‘deaf and dumb’, Mr Wallace said: ‘I think minister Lavrov is a master at these types of engagements and making those types of comments.

‘In our discussion there was absolutely no deafness or blindness, we as defence ministers bear the responsibility of the consequences of what happens in conflict.

‘We deal with the facts and we deal with the issues we have because it is in both our interests to resolve that.

‘I think we have had a constructive and frank discussion and I hope it has contributed to a better atmosphere but also to de-escalation, but there is still considerable way to go between the two of us.’

Meanwhile, Norwegian vice admiral Nils Andreas Stensones said the Russians ‘have all they need to carry everything out, from a minor invasion in the east to minor attacks here and there in Ukraine, or a complete invasion, with, possibly, an occupation of all or parts of Ukraine’.

‘Now, it is up to President Putin to choose if he wants to proceed or not’, he said.

During his overseas engagements, Mr Johnson indicated further military support could be offered to Ukraine if Russia invades. But he made it clear that Britain could not intervene militarily if Ukraine was attacked.

In a pooled clip for broadcasters at a military base in Warsaw, he said: ‘The UK has been supplying some defensive weaponry in the form of anti-tank missiles, we have been training Ukrainian troops. That is as far as we can go at the moment.

‘Ukraine is not part of NATO. What we are sticking up for is the right of Ukraine like any other sovereign independent country to aspire to that.’

At an earlier press conference, speaking alongside NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, the Prime Minister called on Russia to engage in meaningful talks because it was ‘far better to begin a discussion now than to have a catastrophe’.

The UK has already supplied 2,000 anti-tank missiles, body Armour, helmets and combat boots to Ukraine and Mr Johnson indicated he could go further.

Asked if he could authorize military support to an insurgency in Ukraine in the event of an invasion, he said: ‘We will consider what more we can conceivably offer. The Ukrainians are well prepared, there are things we’ve offered that they, in fact, don’t seem to need because they think they have them in enough numbers already.

‘It’s possible, I don’t want to rule this out, but at the moment we think the package is the right one.

But I want to stress it would be an absolute disaster if it was to come to that and if there was to be serious bloodshed on Ukrainian soil.’

In Moscow, Ms Truss had a difficult encounter with Mr Lavrov. He characterised the meeting as a ‘conversation between deaf and dumb’, but Miss Truss said: ‘I was not mute in our discussions earlier, I put forward the UK’s point of view on the current situation and the fact that as well as seeking to deter Russia from an invasion into Ukraine, we are also very resolute in pursuing the diplomatic path.’

She added: ‘There is still time for Russia to end its aggression towards Ukraine and pursue the path of diplomacy.

But in the discussions and a joint press conference Mr Lavrov launched a series of barbs, dismissing 'ultimatums and moralising' from the West and comparing their conversation to a 'deaf and a mute'

But in the discussions and a joint press conference Mr Lavrov launched a series of barbs, dismissing ‘ultimatums and moralizing’ from the West and comparing their conversation to a ‘deaf and a mute’

Ms Truss called for Russia to pull its troops back from the border to ease tensions.

‘There is no doubt that the stationing of over 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border is directly put in place to threaten Ukraine,’ she said. There had also been ‘cyber attacks and other attempts to undermine the activities of a sovereign nation’.

Ms Truss said:

‘If Russia is serious about diplomacy they need to move those troops and desist from the threats.’

The visit to Moscow was the first by a foreign secretary in four years, with the relationship between the UK and Russia severely strained by incidents including the 2018 Salisbury nerve agent attack.

In a sign of the chilly atmosphere at the talks, Mr Lavrov said ‘ideological approaches, ultimatums and moralizing is a road to nowhere’ and accused Miss Truss of being ill-prepared for the negotiations.

Rejecting Miss Truss’s call for forces to pull back, Mr Lavrov said: ‘The demands to remove the Russian troops from the Russian territory cause regret. We don’t want to threaten anyone. It’s us who are facing threats.’

But he indicated force levels would fall once military exercises had been completed, at which point ‘the West will likely claim that it has forced Russia to de-escalate’.

Russia’s troops are all in position and ready to invade Ukraine as soon as Putin makes the call, Norway’s military intelligence chief warns

By Chris Jewers for Mail Online and AFP 

Russia‘s forces are in position and ready to invade Ukraine, and the Kremlin just needs to make the call, the head of Norway’s military intelligence service said Friday.

The Russians ‘have all they need to carry everything out, from a minor invasion in the east to minor attacks here and there in Ukraine, or a complete invasion, with, possibly, an occupation of all or parts of Ukraine’, vice admiral Nils Andreas Stensones said.

‘Now, it is up to President Putin to choose if he wants to proceed or not’, he added.

Stensones made his remarks at the presentation of the Norwegian intelligence services’ annual threat assessment report.

According to him, Russia has ‘more than 150,000 combat troops’ massed at the Ukraine border, along with the country’s ‘most advanced weapons’ and all the necessary logistics.

‘It’s very difficult to say if (an offensive) is likely or unlikely, because it is solely up to the Russian president to make the decision’, he said.

Western nations believe Russia is preparing an imminent invasion of Ukraine, though Moscow has denied it despite the vast military build-up around Ukraine’s east.

Conflict has been festering in eastern Ukraine since 2014 between Russian-backed separatists and Kyiv forces.

Meanwhile, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Friday warned again of the ‘real risk for a new armed conflict in Europe’, while US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said a Russian invasion could come ‘any time’.

His warning came as Russia – continuing its military build-up – moved six amphibious assault vessels into the Black Sea, augmenting its capability to land marines on Ukraine’s southern coast.

Moscow has announced sweeping drills in the Black and Azov seas in the coming days and closed large areas for commercial shipping, drawing a strong protest from Ukraine on Thursday.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba voiced hope that the West would react to the Russian move, saying that

‘we have engaged our partners to prepare a coordinated response.’

Ukraine’s military chief, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, reported to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Friday that the authorities plan to quickly engage 1.5 million to 2 million people in training for the army reserve.

Russia’s troop concentration includes forces deployed on the territory of its ally Belarus for massive joint drills involving firing live ammunition.

The Russians ‘have all they need to carry everything out, from a minor invasion in the east to minor attacks here and there in Ukraine, or a complete invasion, with, possibly, an occupation of all or parts of Ukraine’, Norway’s vice admiral Nils Andreas Stensones said on Friday

Pictured: The Russian and Belarusian armed forces take part in Allied Determination-2022 military drill in Belarus on February 11, 2022

Those exercises entered a decisive phase Thursday and will run through Feb. 20. The Ukrainian capital is about 47 miles south of the Belarus border.

U.S.-based Maxar Technologies – which has been tracking the buildup of Russian forces -said satellite images taken on Wednesday and Thursday showed large new deployments of troops, vehicles and warplanes at several locations in western Russia, Belarus and Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

According to the Military Times, 500 troop tents and hundreds of armoured vehicles were shown at Oktyabrskoye airfield – an abandoned airfield found north of Simferopol, the Crimean peninsula’s second largest city.

Other images showed training activities, artillery deployments and a new deployment in Slavne, also in Crimea.

And north of Ukraine in Belarus, military vehicles and helicopters were also identified at an airfield near Gomel, about 15 miles from its border with its southern neighbour.

Troops are also stationed near Rechitsa in Belarus, some 28 miles from Ukraine.

The satellite images also showed additional equipment had arrived at a Kursk training area in western Russia – a new development since Maxar began releasing images of Russia’s military build-up in December.

This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows an overview of a the tent camp and equipment at Oktyabrskoye airfield in Crimea, on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022
This satellite image released by Maxar Technologies shows equipment and new deployments at Novoozernoye in Crimea on February 9, 2022
This satellite image released by Maxar Technologies shows atillery training at Novoozernoye in Crimea on February 9, 2022
Servicemen of the armed forces of Russia and Belarus take part in the Union Courage 2022 joint military exercise at the Brestsky training ground in Brest Region, Belarus, in this still image taken from video released February 11, 2022

Britain’s defense secretary visited Moscow on Friday in another effort to ease tensions over a possible invasion, which insisted that the standoff with the West wasn’t ‘our fault.’

Ben Wallace’s trip came a day after British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss held frosty negotiations in Moscow to urge Russia to pull back over 100,000 troops near Ukraine.

Her Russian counterpart scathingly described the talks as a ‘conversation between deaf and dumb.’

Russia says it has no plans to invade but wants the West to keep Ukraine and other former Soviet countries out of NATO.

It also wants NATO to refrain from deploying weapons there and to roll back alliance forces from Eastern Europe – demands flatly rejected by the West.

Speaking at the start of his talks with Wallace, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu noted that ‘the military-political situation in Europe is growing increasingly tense, and it’s not our fault.’

He noted that shipments of weapons to Ukraine by the U.S., Britain and other allies have contributed to the tensions and pointed to the recent deployment of British soldiers to Ukraine, asking why they were sent and how long they will stay.

Speaking to reporters after the talks, Wallace noted that the anti-tank missiles that Britain sent to Ukraine were defensive tactical weapons that do not pose a threat to any neighbor unless it invades.

He said British troops deployed to Ukraine to help train its military to use the British weapons and will leave ‘pretty soon’ after they accomplish that mission.

Wallace described the talks as ‘constructive and frank’ and noted his Russian counterpart’s assurances that Moscow has no intention to attack Ukraine.

But he also emphasized that the concentration of Russian troops near Ukrainian territory is clearly ‘beyond normal exercising,’ explaining that about half of Russia’s land forces are concentrated around the border with Ukraine.

He reaffirmed that a Russian invasion would have ‘tragic consequences’ and emphasized the need to maintain contacts between military forces to prevent incidents.

‘What is incredibly important, especially at this time with over 100,000 troops at high readiness on the borders of another country, is that we do not get into a position of miscalculation or escalation,’ Wallace said.

He stressed that only through ‘the ability to talk to each other at times of concern can we pave the way for any de-escalation measures.’

In an interview Thursday with NBC News, U.S. President Joe Biden repeated his warning that any Americans still in Ukraine should leave as soon as possible.

‘It’s not like we’re dealing with a terrorist organization. We’re dealing with one of the largest armies in the world. It’s a very different situation, and things could go crazy quickly,’ he said.

Biden planned to hold a call with trans-Atlantic leaders later in the day.

Asked whether there were any scenarios that would prompt him to send U.S. troops to Ukraine to rescue Americans, the president said: ‘There’s not. That’s a world war when Americans and Russia start shooting at one another.’

Speaking Friday on a visit to Australia, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken did not detail the reasons behind the latest State Department’s security alert urging all American citizens to leave Ukraine.

‘We’re in a window when an invasion could begin at any time and, to be clear, that includes during the Olympics,’ Blinken added. The Olympic Games are scheduled to end Feb. 20.

Kuleba played down the U.S. advice to Americans to leave, saying that Washington has made similar calls before. He noted that the situation remains volatile.

NATO has stepped up military deployments to bolster its eastern flank, with the U.S. sending troops to Poland and Romania.

The U.S. Navy said Thursday that it has deployed four destroyers from the United States to European waters.

The Navy did not directly tie this deployment to the Ukraine crisis but said the ships provide ‘additional flexibility’ to the U.S. Sixth Fleet commander, whose area of responsibility includes the Mediterranean, and will operate in support of NATO allies.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg visited a military base in Romania, hailing the ongoing deployment of 1,000 additional U.S. troops that will nearly double their current number there. ‘This is a powerful demonstration of trans-Atlantic unity,’ Stoltenberg said.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova responded by noting that ‘NATO keeps building up its presence near Russia’s borders and exacerbates the situation around Ukraine to create a pretext for that.’

Russia and Ukraine have been locked in a bitter conflict since 2014, when Ukraine’s Kremlin-friendly leader was driven from office by a popular uprising.

Moscow responded by annexing Crimea and then backing a separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine, where fighting has killed over 14,000 people.

A 2015 peace deal brokered by France and Germany helped halt large-scale battles, but regular skirmishes have continued, and efforts to reach a political settlement have stalled.

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