US says Russia expected to invade Ukraine ‘very soon’

Dan Tri attends a territorial defense exercise amid tensions on the border with Russia, in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, February 13, 2022.

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Russia has made a list of Ukrainians to target after an invasion, a US official said, as President Vladimir Putin prepares to speak about his country. Security Council.

In a letter to the UN Human Rights chief, watched by NBC NewsUS Ambassador to the UN Bathsheba Nell Crocker said the US has “credible information” that Russia has compiled a list of Ukrainians who “will be killed or sent to camps” following an invasion. The contents of the letter were first reported on Sunday night by washington articles.

“We also have reliable information that Russian forces are likely to use lethal means to disperse peaceful protests or resist peaceful exercises in the face of resistance,” she said. of the common people.

The Kremlin denied Crocker’s accusations on Monday, calling reports that Russia had made such lists an “absolute lie,” Reuters reported.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Alexei Reznikov told Ukrainian TV station ICTV on Monday that an invasion is unlikely “tomorrow or the day after,” as no Russian “striking groups” have gathered on the border.

However, he added that these groups could be formed within weeks.

It comes after the White House warned Moscow was planning to launch an all-out attack on Ukraine “very soon”, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned There is evidence Russia is planning “the biggest war in Europe since 1945.”

Last week, the US was estimated to have there are between 169,000 and 190,000 Russian troops in and near Ukraine, up from 100,000 at the end of January. The updated figures come despite Russia’s claim that it has begun withdrawing troops from the border, which is also conflict with NATO and EU.

Russia has repeatedly denied plans to invade neighboring Ukraine. It asked to ensure that Ukraine was never allowed to join NATO – a request denied by the military alliance and the US – and said it wanted the organization to downsize its presence in Eastern Europe.

Putin Reuters reported on Monday, described by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as “not a regular session”.

Peskov also told reporters on Monday that while tensions have risen over Ukraine, Russian diplomats have been active, according to Reuters.

Fighting escalates in eastern Ukraine

Fighting between the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, which has been going on for eight years, has escalated over the past week. Russian state media and Ukrainian authorities repeatedly point fingers at each other for carrying out shelling attacks and other ceasefire violations.

On Monday, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said the Russian occupation forces had carried out “another provocation with the aim of falsely accusing Ukrainian military members.”

“[The] The invasion ministry opened fire with heavy weapons from the Lobacheve settlement aimed at Luhansk,” the ministry said in a statement.

Over the past day, Ukrainian authorities said they had recorded 80 ceasefire violations, 72 violations related to the use of weapons banned under the Minsk agreements, a treaty signed by Ukraine, Russia and other states. Separatist leaders signed in 2014 and 2015.

With the Ukrainian defense forces refraining from any aggression that could provoke a violent response, the occupation forces continue to destroy civilian infrastructure on the Ukraine’s defense ministry. temporarily occupied territories and littered with civilian settlements,” added Ukraine’s Defense Ministry. “It is clear that the enemy continues to use Russian propaganda to wage information warfare, falsely accusing the Ukrainian Armed Forces and further escalating the situation.”

On Saturday, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe recorded more than 1,500 ceasefire violations in eastern Ukraine, including 1,413 explosions.

Eastern Ukraine, near the Russian border, has long been the site of low-level skirmishes. The OSCE has regularly reported ceasefire violations in eastern Ukraine during the eight-year conflict, which has killed around 13,000 people, but the number has risen dramatically in recent days.

Last week, the leader of one of the separatist-held regions in eastern Ukraine announced that people would be evacuated to Russia with the support of the Russian government. It comes after the country’s lawmakers asked Putin last week to officially recognize the two self-proclaimed republics in eastern Ukraine as independent.

Kremlin spokesman Peskov on Monday said “provocative and aggressive actions of the Ukrainian armed forces” have prompted Russia to act to “ensure security and save lives of civilians”, according to media reports. Russian state.

Russian state media also continued to claim on Monday that Ukrainian government forces had carried out shelling and other attacks on separatist-held territory.

Western officials have warned that Russia could make false claims about the conflict in eastern Ukraine to justify military aggression and an invasion, in which the United States and He called it “a false flag attack”.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the UN Security Council last week that this could include a fabricated terrorist bombing, the discovery of a mass grave, an aerial drone strike. pilot aimed at civilians or a mock chemical weapons attack.

Biden agrees ‘in principle’ to meet Putin

On Sunday, The White House announced That president Joe Biden agreed “in principle” to a meeting with Russian leader Putin, on condition that there is no action to invade Ukraine. However, the US still warned that Moscow was preparing for “a full-scale attack on Ukraine very soon.”

The Kremlin on Monday said there are currently no concrete plans for a meeting between Putin and Biden, according to Reuters.

Blinken is scheduled to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Europe later this week, again on the condition that Moscow does not take any military action.

On Sunday, Mr. Biden convened a meeting of the National Security Council to discuss the escalating tensions around Ukraine.

Speaking to the media at the Munich Security Conference on Sunday, US Vice President Kamala Harris warned that there was now a “real possibility of war in Europe” for the first time in more than 70 years.

“As the President has said, we believe that Putin made his decision,” she said.

The package of sanctions designed by the United States and its allies to impose on Russia in the event of an invasion are “some of the biggest, if not the strongest, sanctions,” Harris added.

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