Fears of all-out war between Ukraine and Russia surge as troops ‘ready for assault’

Russia: Expert discusses tensions with Ukraine

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Tensions between the two nations have risen after Ukrainian diplomats called Russia’s growing army “the largest troop movement since the Second World War”. US President Joe Biden issued a warning on Thursday, urging Russian President Vladimir Putin to de-escalate tensions and “refrain from military action.”

In a statement, Mr Biden said: “If Russia continues to interfere with our democracy, I’m prepared to take further actions to respond.

“Now is the time to de-escalate.”

The US cancelled deployment of two warships to the Black Sea on April 14 in order to avoid an unnecessary escalation of the situation.

The Kremlin had previously warned US warships to steer clear of Crimea “for their own good” and has closed part of the Kerch Strait in an attempt to block foreign warships from reaching Ukraine.

Sergeant Sasha Iovenko, a Ukrainian soldier on the front line of the Eastern border, told The Telegraph: “I can’t tell you what’s going through the heads of the political leaders in the Kremlin.

“We can see the increase in the number of troops and equipment on our border but we cannot say for certain. We cannot make any kind of forecast.

“But they are bringing battalion tactical groups to our border.

“We are ready for the assault if it will happen.”

General Tod Wolters, the top US military chief in Europe, warned on Thursday that there is a “low to medium” risk that Russia will invade Ukraine over the next few weeks.

Three Ukrainian gunboats were almost forced to fire on Russian vessels on Thursday in the Azov sea after enemy ships performed “provocative manoeuvres.”

Andrii Klymenko, a Ukrainian commentator, said: “Our sailors had to warn they were ready to use weapons.”

The Ukrainian Government forecasts that around 40,000 troops and a plethora of advanced military-grade equipment has been amassed in Crimea and another 40,000 close to the Eastern Border.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy visited Paris on April 15 to discuss four-way peace negotiations with Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin.

Mr Zelenskiy told reporters: “I’m determined for the four of us to connect.

“The issue of the security situation in the east of Ukraine and the de-occupation of our territories — these are issues that are resolved at the N4 (Normandy) meetings, where four leaders resolve issues.”

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