US spies have reportedly discovered details about Russia’s ‘invasion plan’ for Ukraine, with Brits and American citizens being told to leave the country immediately
Russia could invade Ukraine on Wednesday after US spies reportedly discovered details about an invasion plan.
It comes as Vladimir Putin pulls his diplomats out of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv as the threat of war between the two countries rises.
British and American citizens have been told to leave Ukraine immediately as more than 100,000 Russian troops mass on the border.
Fears are growing that flights out of the country may become difficult if the Russians start a deadly ‘aerial bombardment of Kyiv’.
A German newspaper claims US spies have received details about Russia’s invasion plan, which reportedly sets the date of invasion as February 16.
The plans were passed to President Joe Biden’s Government and have been discussed by NATO allies, according to Der Spiegel.
Mr Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan said an attack before the end of the Winter Olympics on February 20 was a “credible prospect”, assigning it a “very, very distinct possibility”.
Meanwhile, UK armed forces minister James Heappey 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UK personnel to train Ukrainians on the anti-tank missiles supplied by Britain, Mr Heappey said: “All of them will be withdrawn.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 added to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “They will be leaving over the course of the weekend.”
The minister previously warned Brits in Ukraine not to expect a military evacuation if Russia invades.
“British nationals should leave Ukraine immediately by any means possible and they should not expect, as they saw in the summer with Afghanistan, that there would be any possibility of a military evacuation,” he said.
Mr Heappey 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”.
Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs has said it is monitoring the situation in Ukraine after the US and UK warned their citizens to leave the country.
It comes as Russia stages huge Black Sea war games in a powerful show of strength close to the Ukrainian coast.
Russian diplomats and consular staff today started leaving Ukraine, said a RIA Novosti source, in a sign that a full-blown conflict may be imminent.
The Russian embassy in the US said that a Putin order to invade was “not backed by the evidence”.
But Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “The cumulative effect of [NATO’s] expansion [in eastern Europe] has grown and festered, forcing Russia — to put it in the words of our president — to the edge of its red lines as far as national and security interests are concerned.”
Putin and Biden are due to talk today, at the US president’s request. The Kremlin leader will also speak to French president Emmanuel Macron.
“The hysteria of the White House is more revealing than ever. The Anglo-Saxons need a war. At any price,” said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.
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“Our troops are still on our territory and I wonder if the US will invade Ukraine itself — someone has to, after such a panic campaign.”
The pro-Kremlin rebel leader of Donetsk People’s Republic, Denis Pushilin, indicated that he is near the point of formally seeking Russian intervention on Ukrainian territory.
He also claimed that he wants to see the whole of Ukraine as part of a new “union state” including Russia and Belarus – “that is how it is meant to be”.
Meanwhile, the Russian rouble fell the most in nearly two years on Friday after the US said Russia has amassed enough troops near Ukraine to launch a major invasion.