Brits and Americans have been urged to leave Ukraine immediately and the CIA has warned thousands of Russian troops could attack as early as Wednesday
Image: RUSSIAN DEFENCE MINISTRY PRESS SERVICE/HANDOUT/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)
Vladimir Putin is planning to carry out a ‘false flag’ operation before launching a full-scale invasion of Ukraine this week, Government sources have warned.
They have told The Telegraph the Kremlin is looking to justify an invasion, by creating the illusion that Russian troops are responding to “Western aggression”.
Around 130,000 Russian soldiers have amassed on the Ukrainian border and the CIA has warned NATO allies that intercepted intelligence suggests they could strike as early as Wednesday.
Mr Putin has accused the US of stoking tensions, by arming the Ukrainians, after he spoke to US president Joe Biden and French president Emmanuel Macron over the phone yesterday.
He said Russia was being provoked by the West and Ukraine was planning to attack pro-Russian separatists in the Donbas region, which is by the border.
But Mr Biden warned Mr Putin that an invasion would “produce widespread human suffering” and Russia would face “swift and severe” punishment from the US and its allies.
A senior White House official said: “Russia may decide to proceed with military action anyway. Indeed that is a distinct possibility.
“If it does, the damage in Ukraine, European security and yes to Russia will be profound.”
All Brits and Americans were urged to leave Ukraine immediately on Friday, due to the growing threat of an invasion.
Speaking at a press conference, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Russia “is in a position to be able to mount a major military action” in Ukraine “any day now”.
“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.
“We obviously cannot predict the future. We don’t know exactly what is going to happen. But 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 no prospect of a US military evacuation in the event of a Russian invasion.
“If a Russian attack on Ukraine proceeds, it is likely to begin with aerial bombing and missile attacks that could, obviously, kill civilians without regard to their nationality.
“A subsequent ground invasion would involve the onslaught of a massive force.”