The United States has warned its European allies that Russia could attack Ukraine and repeat its operation to annex Crimea in 2014. U.S. officials unofficially informed their EU counterparts of a possible military operation as tens of thousands of Russian troops are stationed near the Ukrainian border, writes the British newspaper The Telegraph.
Senior British government sources told The Telegraph that the government was seriously concerned about the reports and that there was “excitement and concern” in the leadership.
This is happening against the background of rising tensions. Russian President Vladimir Putin has been accused of staging a migration crisis on the Belarusian-Polish border aimed at destabilizing Europe.
On Thursday, the Kremlin said it had sent fighter jets to intercept a British reconnaissance plane operating in the Black Sea region.
Russian troops, including elite units and subdivisions, are concentrated near the Ukrainian border, and some of them are secretly transferred there at night. Assumptions about an impending invasion are based on data from US intelligence, which it has not yet shared with Europe, according to numerous sources.
US President Joe Biden on Wednesday discussed the situation around Ukraine with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the White House. US Vice President Kamala Harris met with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris this week.
Last week, Biden sent CIA Director and former US Ambassador to Russia William Burns to Moscow, who had a telephone conversation with Vladimir Putin and briefed him on the US president’s concerns.
US officials have warned Moscow of “serious mistakes” in gathering the group. They shared intelligence on the movements of Russian troops with the Allies, and also informed them of the possibility of launching a military operation.
The Kremlin denies any aggressive plans, accusing the United States and its NATO allies of provocations. Putin repeated this on Thursday during a conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Russia’s defense ministry says the incident with the British plane is only part of a large-scale campaign to increase military activity by the United States and its allies. Moscow stressed that the British reconnaissance aircraft RC-135 Rivet Joint is trying to get as close as possible to Crimea.
Russia’s military has said its aviation operates in accordance with international law. Konashenkov said: “We do not recognize these statements. The Russian Air and Space Forces shall always act in full compliance with international standards, exercising their right to freedom of flight. “
According to sources, the British plane reacted to the unacceptable actions of the Russian fighter.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said: “We are not aware of Moscow’s intentions, but we know how it usually works. We are concerned that Russia may make a serious mistake in trying to repeat what it did in 2014. We are following this very, very closely. We are constantly consulting with allies and partners. “
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, who met with Blinken in Washington this week, said the United States had provided Ukraine with new information on the build-up of Russian forces and resources. Kuleba added: “What we heard and saw in Washington is in line with our own observations and analyzes and adds some new elements that will allow us to paint a clearer and more comprehensive picture.”
Russia has left tens of thousands of troops near the Ukrainian border following recent exercises. The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense announced that a Russian group of 90,000 people was concentrated near the border.
The ministry noted that units of Russia’s 41st Army remain near Elnya, 250km north of the Ukrainian border.
The US diplomat on European affairs said that the Russian leadership had been warned about the consequences of the threats against Ukraine. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried, who visited Moscow with Burns, said: “Director Burns effectively conveyed the message he considered good to convey.” The United States has said its commitment to Ukraine’s security remains unchanged.
A Pentagon spokesman said the movements of Russian troops were “unusual in scope and scale” and added: “We call on Russia to clarify its intentions.”
Meanwhile, Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko is threatening to cut off gas supplies to Europe amid a growing crisis with migrants at the border. Poland has sent 15,000 troops to the border and closed a key border crossing.