The U.S. has warned the Ukrainian government that Vladimir Putin’s troops are ‘ready to go now’ with a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, with 80 per cent of Russian troops now assembled around the country in attack positions.
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U.S. President Joe Biden warned Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky of an ‘imminent’ attack by Vladimir Putin’s troops in the next 48 hours, just hours after Ukraine was hit by a ‘massive’ cyberattack targeting its government and banks.
U.S. intelligence chiefs fear Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, is at particular risk of being targeted in a Russian invasion as it is close to the Ukrainian-Russian border. Last night, a huge military convoy of more than 100 trucks with soldiers were heading in the direction of the city.
And in a significant move, the rebel leaders in eastern Ukraine have asked Putin for military assistance in fending off Ukrainian ‘aggression’. Many observers have suggested baseless and unfounded claims of Ukrainian military aggression to Moscow-backed separatist forces would form the pretext to a full-scale invasion.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the rebel chiefs wrote to Putin to tell him that shelling by the Ukrainian military has caused civilian deaths and forced many people to flee.
Meanwhile, the websites of Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Security Service, and Cabinet of Ministers were all out of action Wednesday afternoon after a cyberattack. Bomb threats were also phoned in to several government buildings, thought to be part of a psychological pressure campaign by Moscow.
Deputy prime minister Mykhailo Fedorov said banks were also targeted in a ‘massive’ distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack – which uses computer networks to bombard websites with information until they crash – in what analysts have warned would likely be the first stage of a Russian attack.
It came just hours after the whole country was placed on a war footing: A state of emergency was declared and approved by parliament, 200,000 military reservists called up, border zones were restricted and three million Ukrainians told to leave Russia, with Kiev acknowledging for the first time that an attack could now take place anywhere, at any time.
As the noose tightened, Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to send more weapons to help Ukraine defend itself against what the US has warned will be an all-out Russian assault. Johnson also promised more and tougher sanctions against Russia if Putin escalates further.