Russia ready for war: Putin could launch invasion at any moment, Ukraine’s President warns

Ukraine: Former Russian lieutenant warns of ‘global catastrophe’

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The RAF is deploying Six Royal Air Force Typhoon super-jets to eastern Europe in a clear signal to Russian President Vladimir Putin, while US Secretary of State Andrew Blinken is meeting with Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba today. Estimates suggest between 50,000 and 80,000 Russian troops are now massed along Ukraine’s eastern border with their superpower neighbour and in Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.

The Donbass region in the east of Ukraine is the setting for an ongoing conflict between government forces and Russian-backed separatists, which is estimated to have cost as many as 14,000 lives in the last seven years.

Mr Zelenskiy, speaking during a visit to see troops dug into trenches in the area, told a CNN film crew the threat of war was all too real.

He explained: “Of course. We know it, from 2014 we know it can be each day.

“They are ready, but we are also ready because we are on our land and our territory.”

In a direct plea to US President Joe Biden to “do more” to help his country, Mr Zelenskiy said: “If they see Ukraine in NATO, they have to say it directly, and do it. Not words.”

He admitted the prospects of Ukraine joining the alliance were slim, given the reaction that would likely provoke from Mr Putin.

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However, he added: “But what now is going on? What we do here? What do our people do here? They fight.”

The MoD today confirmed RAF Typhoons were being sent to Romania to patrol the skies around the Black Sea.

They will be supported by troops from the RAF’s No 1 Expeditionary Logistics Squadron and No 2 Mechanical Transport Squadron.

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All are being deployed from bases in the UK this week.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg today called on Moscow to withdraw troops ahead of an emergency meeting of allied foreign and defence ministers.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba flew to Brussels for talks with Mr Stoltenberg a day after Kyiv accused the Kremlin of ignoring its request for bilateral discussions between Mr Putin and Mr Zelenskiy.

Mr Stoltenberg said: “In recent weeks Russia has moved thousands of combat-ready troops to Ukraine’s borders, the largest massing of Russian troops since the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014.

“Russia must end this military build-up in and around Ukraine, stop its provocations and deescalate immediately.”

Mr Blinken is due to meet today with Mr Kuleba, who has called for further economic sanctions against Moscow and more military help to Kyiv.

Mr Kuleba explained: “At the operational level, we need measures which will deter Russia and which will contain its aggressive intentions.

“This could be a new round of sanctions which would raise the price of Russian aggression,” Kuleba told a news conference.

Two allied diplomats said Stoltenberg would chair an emergency video conference with allied defence and foreign ministers on Wednesday.

Mr Blinken and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are expected to be present at NATO headquarters in Brussels to brief the other 29 allies on Ukraine, as well as on Afghanistan.

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