Emmanuel Macron to hold talks with Vladimir Putin as he stresses need to de-escalate Ukraine crisis

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Emmanuel Macron to hold talks with Vladimir Putin as he stresses need to de-escalate Ukraine crisis - Michele Tantussi /pool reuters 
Emmanuel Macron to hold talks with Vladimir Putin as he stresses need to de-escalate Ukraine crisis - Michele Tantussi /pool reuters

Emmanuel Macron has told a press conference in Berlin that he plans to hold phone talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Friday to discuss the situation in Ukraine.

The French President has said he will ask Mr Putin for clarification and visibility on the situation.

Mr Macron also said that Germany and France are "united" in their aim of lowering tensions in Ukraine and are both fully committed to finding a peaceful solution to the crisis.

"We have to manage together the rising tensions at the Ukrainian border and more widely the question of the relationship with Russia. We both call for with a lot of force for a de-escalation of tensions," the French president said.

"I would like to say how much Germany and France are united in this issue whether it is in discussions in Nato, the EU, inside the OSCE or as two European partners in the Normandy format."

His thoughts were echoed by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who stressed his desire to find a solution to the crisis by "talking".

06:17 PM

Ukraine's leader offers calm but no 'childish illusions' about Russia threat

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has urged people to stay calm about the threat of a Russian attack and said there was work in progress to bring about a meeting between him and the leaders of Russia, France and Germany.

In a televised video address, Mr Zelensky said this week's withdrawal of personnel from Western embassies in Kyiv did not signal that a military escalation with Russia was inevitable.

"There are no rose-coloured glasses, no childish illusions, everything is not simple .... But there is hope," Mr Zelensky said. "Protect your body from viruses, your brain from lies, your heart from panic."

Ukraine crisis latest: Emmanuel Macron to hold talks with Vladimir Putin as he stresses need to de-escalate - Alex Brandon /Pool AP 
Ukraine crisis latest: Emmanuel Macron to hold talks with Vladimir Putin as he stresses need to de-escalate - Alex Brandon /Pool AP

06:07 PM

Olaf Scholz defends Germany's engagement in Ukraine crisis

Olaf Scholz has defended Germany's record on supporting Ukraine, responding to criticism of Berlin's refusal to follow other Western countries in sending Kyiv lethal weapons to defend itself against a possible Russian invasion.

"We have done a great deal to actively support economic development and democratic development in Ukraine," he told a joint news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron, adding that there were historical reasons for Germany's refusal to send lethal weapons to war zones.

"We feel responsible, for example, for ensuring that Ukraine remains a (gas) transit country," he added. "Ukraine knows it can rely on Germany."

Ukraine crisis latest: Britain will send troops to protect allies in Eastern Europe if Russia invades, Boris Johnson warns - Pool/Getty Images Europe 
Ukraine crisis latest: Britain will send troops to protect allies in Eastern Europe if Russia invades, Boris Johnson warns - Pool/Getty Images Europe

05:57 PM

Biden does not intend to send unilateral U.S. troops to Ukraine: White House

U.S. President Joe Biden does not intend to send unilateral U.S. troops to Ukraine, the White House has said, after Washington put some 8,500 troops on alert to reassure Nato allies in the face of a Russian military buildup.

"Just to be clear: there is no intention or interest or desire by the president to send troops to Ukraine. Nato is a forum to support our eastern flank partners and countries, and that's what the focus has been on."

05:51 PM

Germany and France 'united in de-escalation'

Emmanuel Macron has said that Germany and France are "united" in their aim of lowering tensions in Ukraine and are both fully committed to finding a peaceful solution to the crisis.

"We have to manage together the rising tensions at the Ukrainian border and more widely the question of the relationship with Russia. We both call for with a lot of force for a de-escalation of tensions," the French president said.

"I would like to say how much Germany and France are united in this issue whether it is in discussions in Nato, the EU, inside the OSCE or as two European partners in the Normandy format."

His thoughts were echoed by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who stressed his desire to find a solution to the crisis by "talking".

"I will remind you that we have been clear that any attack threatening the territorial integrity of Ukraine would come at a high price. We have had several contacts with our allies in Nato and the EU and one condition is that we can also fight in other ways to reach de-escalation," he said

"We strongly support a format of direct dialogue notably between the US and Russia so that there can be meetings and discussions, It hadn’t been done for a long time now it is and it’s a good thing."

05:40 PM

Emmanuel Macron to speak with Vladimir Putin on Friday

Emmanuel Macron has told a press conference in Berlin that he plans to hold phone talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Friday to discuss the situation in Ukraine.

The French President has said he will ask Mr Putin for clarification and visibility on the situation.

Mr Macron also said that U.S-Russia talks over the Ukraine were a "good thing" but that they were yet to show any clear results.

Ukraine crisis latest: Britain will send troops to protect allies in Eastern Europe if Russia invades, Boris Johnson warns - Michele Tantussi /pool reuters 
Ukraine crisis latest: Britain will send troops to protect allies in Eastern Europe if Russia invades, Boris Johnson warns - Michele Tantussi /pool reuters

05:28 PM

Macron, Scholz warn Russia of 'high price' for incursion into Ukraine

France and Germany will not abandon dialogue with Russia but if Moscow chooses to attack Ukraine the price will be high, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday.

Mr Macron, speaking at a press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin, said Europe and its allies were united on the question of Ukraine.

"If there is an attack, there will be retaliation and the price (for Russia) will be very high," Mr Macron said

Mr Scholz reiterated his French counter-parts comments, warning Russia it will pay a very high price for violating Ukraine's territorial integrity, but stressed that he wised to see a de-escalation of tensions achieved via diplomatic discussions.

The German Chancellor also defended his government's record on supporting Ukraine, saying Berlin has done a lot to support Kyiv's democratic and economic development.

Ukraine crisis latest: Britain will send troops to protect allies in Eastern Europe if Russia invades, Boris Johnson warns - Kay Nietfeld /pool dpa 
Ukraine crisis latest: Britain will send troops to protect allies in Eastern Europe if Russia invades, Boris Johnson warns - Kay Nietfeld /pool dpa

05:21 PM

The EU's 'unforgivable failure' over Ukraine

Germany's strange ambivalence is at the heart of this diplomatic travesty, says Ambrose Evans-Pritchard.

Sometimes you have to be blunt in international affairs. If Vladimir Putin takes Kiev it will be in large part because the German political and economic establishment is complicit, notwithstanding the efforts of the Green foreign minister to change course at the last moment.

The German elites have signalled by their actions and body language that there will be no serious consequences, whatever Mr Putin does with his Blitzkrieg forces and armoured divisions on Ukraine’s border.

The rest of core Europe is going along with what can only be described as a diplomatic travesty.

You can read Ambrose's thoughts in full here.

05:05 PM

Canada withdraws diplomat families from Kyiv

Canada is withdrawing the families of its diplomats stationed in Ukraine's capital because of the Russian military buildup on the border, after similar moves by the United States and Britain.

"We have decided to temporarily withdraw Canadian embassy staff's children under 18 years of age and family members accompanying them," the foreign ministry said.

It cited "the ongoing Russian military buildup and destabilizing activities in and around Ukraine."

The United States said Sunday it was withdrawing the families of its diplomats in Kyiv, and Britain followed suit on Monday.

Ukraine has called these moves "premature."

04:45 PM

Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz to give press conference shortly

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz are due to begin a joint press conference from Berlin shortly, in which they are expected to discuss the crisis in Ukraine.

We will bring you all the latest updates as we get them.

04:42 PM

'We would like to deter Vladimir Putin', says Jen Psaki

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has said the Biden administration hasn't ruled out sending "additional assistance" to Eastern Europe in an effort to deter Vladimir Putin from making further military incursions.

"We've never ruled out providing additional assistance to eastern flank countries in advance of any [Russian] invasion," she told reporters.

"We would like to deter Vladimir Putin from an incursion. We want to bolster the solidarity of the [Nato] alliance."

Ukraine crisis latest: Britain will send troops to protect allies in Eastern Europe if Russia invades, Boris Johnson warns - AP/Andrew Harnik 
Ukraine crisis latest: Britain will send troops to protect allies in Eastern Europe if Russia invades, Boris Johnson warns - AP/Andrew Harnik

The American stance of sending troops in an effort to prevent Russian action appears to run contrary to the position outlined by Boris Johnson in the House of Commons today. The Prime Minister appeared to suggest that Britain would only send additional resources to the region as a reaction to any further incursions.

"The British army leads the Nato battle group in Estonia and if Russia invades Ukraine we will look at additional deployments to aid our European allies," he said in an address to Parliament this afternoon.

04:27 PM

From ‘peacekeepers’ to a full-scale offensive: Vladimir Putin’s five options for invading Ukraine

Discerning Vladimir Putin’s military plans for Ukraine quickly runs into a simple problem: he has the capability to do almost anything.

He could launch airstrikes similar to Nato’s campaign against Serbia in 1999. He could try a demonstrative but destructive ground incursion, as he did in Georgia in 2008. Or he could launch a grand Second World War-style invasion, encircle Kyiv, and annex half the country.

Our senior foreign correspondent Roland Oliphant breaks down the buffet of options the Russian president has to choose form here.

04:13 PM

'Emmanuel Macron willing to sacrifice Western unity on Russia in his push for a stronger EU'

The French president's insistence that EU has vital role in defusing tensions over Ukraine is a case of emperor's new clothes, says our Europe editor James Crisp.

Emmanuel Macron insists that the EU has an “important” role to play in deescalating tensions between Russia and the West over the possible invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Macron’s critics claim his calls for dialogue with Russia undermine the unity of the West in the face of Mr Putin’s aggression.

But Mr Macron’s posturing is a clear case of the emperor’s new clothes - and the French president knows it.

You can read James' analysis in full here.

03:57 PM

Why Russia could invade and what is next

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has on Tuesday confirmed that the UK will contribute to Nato deployments if Russia invades.

Claiming Moscow has a "gun to Ukraine's head", the PM warned Putin that he would not hesitate to "toughen our national sanctions" following a virtual meeting on Monday night with other Western leaders including US President Joe Biden.

Here, Verity Bowman breaks down how the crisis reached this point and what could be next.

03:40 PM

U.S. plane brings military equipment and munitions to Ukraine

A U.S. plane carrying military equipment and munitions has landed in Kyiv, the third shipment of a $200-million security package to shore up Ukraine as it braces for a possible Russian military offensive.

"Our partners are increasing the amount of military assistance. And today we are meeting the third aircraft from the United States government as part of this assistance," Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov told reporters before the plane landed.

The United States has been Ukraine's most powerful backer in trying to avert a new attack by Russia, which has massed troops near Ukraine's border. Moscow denies planning an offensive.

The United States has committed more than $650 million of security assistance to Ukraine in the past year and more than $2.7 billion in total since 2014, when Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula.

Ukraine has been a grateful recipient of the aid though it has criticised as "premature" a partial pullout of U.S. and other embassy staff.

03:24 PM

UK will not hesitate to 'toughen our national sanctions' if Russia invades

03:09 PM

'Contingency planning' underway to shield EU energy supplies: US official

The United States and its European allies are scouring global markets for alternative energy sources to mitigate fallout from any conflict with major energy exporter Russia over Ukraine, a senior US official has said.

"We're working with countries, companies around the world to ensure the security of supply and to mitigate against price shocks," the official said.

The "contingency planning" includes negotiations with suppliers in North Africa and Asia to "temporarily surge gas output."

The statement comes as the United States warned Russia not to "weaponise" its enormous oil and gas industry against energy importing European countries in the event of conflict over Ukraine.

"If Russia decides to weaponize its supply of natural gas or crude oil, it wouldn't be without consequences to the Russian economy," a senior US official told reporters.

Although the European Union sources about 40 per cent of its supplies from Russia, Moscow also relies heavily on sales of energy for its national budget, meaning "it's an interdependency," the official said.

02:46 PM

Watch: Johnson warns UK will send troops

Watch Prime Minister Boris Johnson give a statement to MPs on Ukraine in the House of Commons below:

02:29 PM

Russian-backed saboteurs arrested

Russian-backed saboteurs have been arrested, according to Ukraine, after plotting attacks along the eastern border aimed at “destabilising” the country.

Ukraine's SBU security service said on Tuesday that the group was preparing to conduct “a series of armed attacks” on city infrastructure “coordinated by Russian special service”.

A Russian citizen was one of two men arrested during raids close to the Russian border in Kharkiv and Zhytomyr, in western Ukraine.

02:23 PM

Johnson: We have to beware of giving Putin a pretext to invade Ukraine

Britain and other NATO allies must be careful not to give Russia justification to invade Ukraine, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday, adding that no Nato allies were willing to send large numbers of troops to fight in Ukraine itself.

"We have to beware of doing things ... that would constitute a pretext for (Russian President Vladimir) Putin to invade," Mr Johnson said.

"We have to calculate and calibrate what we do very carefully and I think building a strong package of economic sanctions, continuing to supply defensive weaponry, and all the other things that we're doing - that's the right package."

02:10 PM

Not too late to mobilise a 'sizeable' Nato presence in Ukraine

Conservative chairman of the Defence Committee Tobias Ellwood has said it is not too late to mobilise a "sizeable" Nato presence in Ukraine, utilising the alliance's power to "make Putin think twice".

Speaking in the House of Commons, the MP for Bournemouth East and former soldier said: "As the Prime Minister articulates, the West is now regrouping.

"But the penny is also dropping. The threat of sanctions will not deter a Russian aggression, and a total or even partial invasion will have severe economic and security consequences felt right across Europe and beyond."

He added: "So I ask the Government to liaise with the United States and now consider a more simpler and effective option to deter this invasion by belatedly answering Ukraine's call for help. It is not to late to mobilise a sizeable Nato presence in Ukraine, utilising the superior hard power the alliance possesses to make Putin think twice about invading another European democracy."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson replied: "I have to tell him that I don't believe that to be a likely prospect in the near term. Ukraine is not a member of Nato. But what we can do, and what we are doing is sending troops to support Ukraine."

02:03 PM

Keir Starmer outlines four-point plan for Russia

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer outlined his four-point plan in the Commons.

He said: "First reform Companies House to crack down on shell companies. Second a register of overseas entities to lift the veil on who owns property and assets in the UK. Thirdly, tougher regulation of political donations and finally implement the recommendations of the cross-party Russia (report) to bolster national security."

He added: "Will the Prime Minister support these measures to rid the UK of the loot of the corrupt Russian elite? We cannot stand up to Russian aggression abroad while facilitating Russian corruption at home."

He went on: "After the chemical attacks in Salisbury, after the annexation of Crimea and now the threat of invasion in Ukraine, it's time to send a simple, clear and united message we support Ukraine's sovereign right to choose her own destiny, we will stand with the Ukrainian people in the face of President Putin's threats, his aggression will come at a high price for himself and his regime."

01:55 PM

The West must show Russia there are consequences, says Starmer

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: "For too long the implicit message to Moscow has been that President Putin can do what he likes and the West will do little to respond.

"We must now change course and show Russia that any further aggression will result in severe real world consequences."

He added: "Widespread and hard-hitting sanctions must include cutting Russia's access to the international financial system. Europe's over-reliance on Russian energy supplies is well documented and simply must be addressed, and in Britain we have failed to rid our economic and political systems of the ill-gotten money used to support the Putin regime."

"If we take our obligations to global security seriously we cannot go on allowing ourselves to be the world's laundromat for illicit finance."

01:52 PM

Russian aggression can be resolved "through diplomacy'

Concluding his statement, Boris Johnson said he believed Russian aggression in Ukraine could be resolved through diplomacy, and added a war would "deserve the condemnation of history".

The Prime Minister said: "I believe that all of Russia's fears could yet be allayed, and we could find a path to mutual security through patient and principled diplomacy, provided that President Putin avoids the trap of starting a terrible war, and a war that we believe would earn and would deserve the condemnation of history."

01:49 PM

Johnson calls on European allies to prepare Russia sanctions

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday called on European allies to be ready to introduce a tough sanctions package against Russia if it invades Ukraine, adding that unity in the West would help deter Russian aggression.

"We have a hard-hitting package of sanctions ready to go and what I think it would be fair to say is we want to see our European friends ready to deploy that package as soon as there should be any incursion at all by Russia into Ukraine," Mr Johnson told lawmakers.

"It is absolutely vital that ... the West is united now, because it is our unity now that will be much more effective in deterring any Russian aggression."

01:43 PM

Labour backs Government actions

Keir Starmer has called the military buildup an "attempt by President Putin to turn back the cloak and reestablish Russian dominance over eastern Europe".

Speaking in Parliament, the opposition leader added that the Labour Party backs the steps the Government has taken to bolster support, and the diplomatic efforts to stabalise the situation.

"We must show show Russia that any further aggression will result in severe, real-world consequences. For Britain, that will mean taking tough decisions.

"Sanctions must include cutting Russia's access to the global financial system."

01:31 PM

UK will contribute to Nato deployments

The UK will contribute to Nato deployments to protect allies if Russia invades, Mr Johnson said, adding that Russia has a "gun to Ukraine's head".

"We agreed on the necessity of finalising these measures as quickly as possible in order to maximise the deterrent effects," he said.

"The British army leads the NATO battle group in Estonia and if Russia invades Ukraine we will look at additional deployments to aid our European allies.

"We cannot bargain away the vision of a Europe whole and free that emerged in the years between 1989 and 1991, healing the division of our continent by the iron curtain.

"We will not reopen that divide of the European security order because Russia has placed a gun to Ukraine’s head.

"Nor can we accept the principle implicit in Russia’s proposal that all states are sovereign but some are more sovereign than others."

01:28 PM

UK has sought a solution with Russia - but will not hesitate to impose sanctions

The UK has sought to combine dialogue with deterrents to a Russian invasion, Boris Johnson has said, emphasising how a “united Western alliance” would exact a “foreboding price for any Russian incursion”.

Mr Johnson warned Russia of tougher sanctions and an increased Nato presence.

“If Russia’s goal is to keep NATO’s forces away from her border, then invading Ukraine would have the precise opposite effect.”

"We in the UK will not hesitate to toughen our national sanctions against Russia in response to whatever President Putin may do and the House (of Commons) will soon hear more on this," Mr Johnson told parliament.

01:23 PM

Boris Johnson live from Parliament

Boris Johnson is speaking live from Parliament. He began by saying that he and the whole Government are focused "100 per cent" on "protecting freedoms around the world".

"The force arrayed on Ukraine’s frontier arrays over 100,00 troops, far bigger than anything Russia has deployed here before.

"Ukrainians have every moral and legal right to defend their country and I believe ether resistance would be dogged

"The bloodshed would be comparable to the first war in Checnhya or Bosnia or any other conflict Europe has endured since 1945. No one would gain from such a catastrophe."

01:11 PM

Johnson heads to Parliament

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has departed Number 10 Downing Street to give his statement in Parliament.

Boris Johnson - Chris J. Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
Boris Johnson - Chris J. Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

01:04 PM

Further Russian advance would be 'massive mistake'

A further military incursion by Russia into Ukraine "would be a massive strategic mistake" Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has told MPs.

Speaking during FCDO questions in the Commons, she said: "I'll be visiting Ukraine next week. A further military incursion by Russia into Ukraine would be a massive strategic mistake and come with a severe cost on Russia's economy, including co-ordinated sanctions."

Responding to a question from SNP MP Dave Doogan (Angus), she added: "I met the Prime Minister last night to discuss this very serious issue, he had a call with President Biden, President Macron, and Chancellor Scholz to continue to co-ordinate our efforts.

"Yesterday I met the secretary-general of Nato to talk about the contribution the UK is making and I can assure you the UK is absolutely at the forefront of putting pressure on Russia and supporting our friends in Ukraine."

12:48 PM

Russia begins fresh military drills in Crimea

The Russian military said Tuesday it had launched exercises involving some 6,000 troops and at least 60 fighter jets in southern Russia near Ukraine and in the annexed region of Crimea.

Russian news agencies quoted the southern military district describing the live-fire drills as a combat readiness check, as tensions rage between Moscow and the West over Crimea.

Crimea is seen as one of the key strategic points via which Russia could launch a further military incursion into Ukraine.

12:37 PM

Where will Nato station additional troops?

Yesterday, Nato announced it is sending additional ships and fighter jets to existing bases in Eastern Europe, as well as putting extra troops on standby, as tensions escalate in Ukraine

Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary General of Nato, said the move is designed to enhance deterrence and defence in Eastern Europe, adding that Nato "will always respond to any deterioration of our security environment".

But where will those additional troops be placed? We have pulled together a map detailing the troop build up around the Balkan region, as well as the reinforcements sent to Poland to be close to the Ukrainian border.

You can also read more on Nato's troop deployment here.

12:25 PM

Liz Truss to visit Ukraine next week

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has told Parliament that she will visit Ukraine next week.

"I'll be visiting Ukraine next week," Ms Truss told parliament.

She also reiterated a warning to Russia that any incursion into Ukrainian territory would come at a severe economic cost.

"A further military incursion by Russia into Ukraine would be a massive strategic mistake and come with a severe cost on Russia's economy, including coordinated sanctions."

However, in her statement, Ms Truss did stress that it is "unlikely" that British troops will be deployed in a "combat role" in Ukraine.

Ukraine crisis latest: Russian advance forces 'already in Ukraine', says UK Armed Forces minister - Anadolu Agency /Anadolu 
Ukraine crisis latest: Russian advance forces 'already in Ukraine', says UK Armed Forces minister - Anadolu Agency /Anadolu

12:09 PM

EU well advanced to have strong deterrent measures against Russia

The European Commission has very much advanced its work to have strong deterrent measures ready if Russia continues its threatening actions against Ukraine, an EU spokesperson said on Tuesday.

"The work is very well advanced in order to have in place strong deterrent and also robust measures prepared in case the dialogue does not succeed, that Russia does not de-escalate." the spokesperson said during a press conference.

"In case Russia embarks on future violation of Ukraine's sovereignty territorial integrity... We will be reacting very strong and there will be strong political consequences and massive economic costs inflicted on the aggressor," he said.

11:49 AM

Ukraine says dismantled Moscow-backed criminal group preparing attacks

Ukraine said Tuesday it had dismantled a group of saboteurs coordinated by Moscow that was preparing a series of attacks in Ukraine's border regions to "destabilise" the situation in the ex-Soviet country.

The group was preparing a "series of armed attacks" on city infrastructure, Ukraine's security service SBU said in a statement, adding that the group was "coordinated by Russian special services".

11:35 AM

US will block some global exports from Russia in invasion scenario, according to reports

The US is planning to block global exports of raw materials from Russia if it invades Ukraine, the German newspaper Bild claimed on Tuesday, reports Justin Huggler from Berlin.

In what it claimed were leaked details of the plans, the newspaper reported US sanctions will target oil, gas and other raw material exports that are the mainstay of the Russian economy.

The US and its allies will attempt to block exports on a worldwide basis, which the report said could cost the Russian economy more than $50bn (£37bn).

They will also block Russian arms exports and expel diplomats in order to hamper the work of Russian intelligence.

The details appear to have been leaked to the newspaper from a briefing William Burns, the head of the CIA, gave to German chancellor Olaf Scholz recently.

Mr Burns flew to Berlin to meet with Mr Scholz personally as the US tries to keep Germany on board with its plans.

A key element in any sanctions on raw materials will be the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany.

The US wants Germany to scrap the pipeline in the event of Russian aggression against Ukraine, but Mr Scholz has given mixed signals.

The Bild report claimed Annalena Baerbock, the German foreign minister, and her Green Party have signed up fully to the US plans but Mr Scholz and his Social Democrats (SPD) are reluctant.

That raises the prospect of a damaging split within the German coalition government over the issue.

11:09 AM

American jets train US air base Suffolk tensions Russia

American F15 and F-35 jets were seen training at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk from 7.30am on Tuesday as tensions continue to rise between the US and Russia.

The planes were seen preparing at the US air base after tens of thousands of Russian troops amassed on the border with the Ukraine.

The United States Air Force has announced there will be extra training at the base this week and warned local communities it would be noisy as they increased flying activities.

A spokeswoman for the 48th Fighter Wing said: "Communities in Thetford and surrounding regions may notice increased noise from military aircraft as the 48th Fighter Wing conducts increased flying activities.

"These operations demonstrate our capability to rapidly generate air response and provide aircrew and support personnel stationed at RAF Lakenheath the experience needed to maintain a ready force capable of ensuring the collective defence of the NATO alliance.

"The exercise does not include plans for low-altitude flying in the area. All training will be conducted in accordance with Ministry of Defence and UK airspace regulations."

10:49 AM

What is happening?

Russian troops totaling 130,000, alongside 1,200 tanks, fighter jets and long-range missile batteries have amassed on Ukraine’s eastern border. The troop build-up has sparked the biggest crisis in East-West ties since the Cold War.

Russia has put forward a list of security demands including for a guarantee that Ukraine never be allowed to join NATO and that alliance forces pull back in Eastern European countries that joined after the Cold War.

A series of talks in various European cities this month have failed to ease tensions, though US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov agreed at a meeting in Geneva on Friday to keep talking.

Moscow has accused the US of ratcheting up tensions after Washington put several thousand troops on alert for possible deployment to boost NATO.

10:36 AM

Former MI6 chief 'cannot see scenario' where Putin backs down

A former MI6 chief has conceded he "cannot see a scenario" where Vladimir Putin will back down amid fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Sir Alex Younger, who served as Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service from 2014 to 2020, told the BBC's Today programme the Russian President was "playing poker rather than chess" to create options for himself.

But he added: "At the moment I cannot see a scenario where he can back down in a way that satisfies the expectations that he [Putin] has created.

"It feels dangerous and it's clearly getting more dangerous. It's hard to see a safe landing zone given the expectations that President Putin has created."

10:19 AM

Russian forces 'already in Ukraine'

Parts of a “Russian military advance force” are already inside Ukraine, James Heappey, UK armed forces minister, has said.

“As I write, we are becoming aware of a significant number of individuals that are assessed to be associated with Russian military advance-force operations and currently located in Ukraine," Mr Heappey wrote in the Sun.

It is possible these forces are the same US intelligence last week claimed were preparing a false flag attack. The eastern region of Donbas is already controlled by Russia-backed separatists.

10:01 AM

Russians will face 'huge costs' if they invade Ukraine

If Russians invade Ukraine they “will not get an easy ride”, according to the former head of the British Army.

Lord Dannatt told Times Radio that the country’s military has come on “leaps and bounds over the last few years”, something supported by “Western equipment and training”.

"There will be huge costs to the Russians if they decide to go into Ukraine, even just part of Ukraine. I think this is a factor they have to bear in mind.

“I think the West has been quite right to support Ukraine in terms of recognising it is a sovereign country and has the rights to its own sovereign territory.”

09:47 AM

Kremlin expresses 'great concern' over US troops on alert

The Kremlin on Tuesday accused the United States of escalating tensions over Ukraine by putting 8,500 troops on alert.

"The United States is escalating tensions," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

"We are watching these US actions with great concern."

The Pentagon said Monday that a force of up to 8,500 US troops was on "heightened alert" for potential deployment to reinforce any activation of the NATO Response Force in response to the Ukraine crisis.

09:42 AM

Putin to meet with Macron this week

The Kremlin has said that Vladimir Putin will meet with France's Emmanuel Macron this week.

09:24 AM

Russia is pushing for a “new normal” in international agenda

Russia’s growing military presence at Ukraine’s borders is part of a “new normal” Vladimir Putin is pushing onto world affairs, according to Olha Stefanishyna, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister.

As Russian troops throw Europe into a growing crisis, Ms Stefanishyna told EURACTIV “it is very unlikely that there will be simply an order to withdraw the troops from the Ukrainian border”.

“But as long as Putin is in negotiations with the West, it’s very unlikely for him to proceed with a military scenario on Ukraine, because basically, it wouldn’t be the very end of his existence.”

The “ongoing aggression” by Putin has been targetted to destablise Ukraine and undermine its economy, she added.

“This is basically the new normality Putin is trying to squeeze in into the international agenda."

09:10 AM

In pictures: Ukrainian forces on the frontline

Ukrainian Servicemen of the 30th Army Brigade are seen outside of Svitlodarsk, Ukraine - Wolfgang Schwan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Ukrainian Servicemen of the 30th Army Brigade are seen outside of Svitlodarsk, Ukraine - Wolfgang Schwan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
A Ukrainian Military Forces serviceman, looks on in a dugout on the frontline with Russia-backed separatists near Gorlivka, Donetsk region  - ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP via Getty Images
A Ukrainian Military Forces serviceman, looks on in a dugout on the frontline with Russia-backed separatists near Gorlivka, Donetsk region - ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP via Getty Images
A Ukrainian Military Forces serviceman in a trench on the frontline with the Russia-backed separatists near Zolote village, in the eastern Lugansk region - Photo by ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP via Getty Images
A Ukrainian Military Forces serviceman in a trench on the frontline with the Russia-backed separatists near Zolote village, in the eastern Lugansk region - Photo by ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP via Getty Images
A Ukrainian Servicemen of the 30th Army Brigade are seen outside of Svitlodarsk, Ukraine - Wolfgang Schwan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
A Ukrainian Servicemen of the 30th Army Brigade are seen outside of Svitlodarsk, Ukraine - Wolfgang Schwan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

08:53 AM

'Show of strength needed', says Brown

Gordon Brown has said a show of strength is needed to face down Russian President Vladimir Putin over a possible fresh incursion in Ukraine.

The former prime minister recalled that, during his dealings with Mr Putin, the Russian leader had said he "would not co-operate in any way".

He told ITV's Good Morning Britain: "You have to be able to stand up to him. Remember the assassinations on British soil? He was going to assassinate other people if we hadn't stood up to him. The only thing that Putin understands is strength.

"Perhaps belatedly, the right thing to do is a show of strength from Nato and unity from Nato, and that is something that has got to be fought for and making it clear that we will not accept Russian incursions.

"I think it will be financial and economic sanctions that are going to have to be so severe that the Russian autocrats, the Russian oligarchs and Putin himself and his government is affected by them."

08:39 AM

'Russia is succeeding in sowing panic in Ukraine'

Russia is succeeding in sowing panic in Ukraine, a top security official said, as the Ukrainian president called for calm amid escalating tensions between Russia and the West.

Moscow "is trying to sow panic," said Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defence Council, following an emergency meeting of the body last night. "Russia's number one task is to undermine the internal situation in our country. And today, regrettably, they are succeeding very well."

He said that more than 100,000 Russian troops remain stationed near his country's border, but called for calm as he did not believe Moscow was ready to launch a full-scale invasion.

If it did, Ukraine would be ready to defend itself, Mr Danilov said.

"Ukraine is ours alone, we are not going to give it to anyone, and victory will be ours."

08:31 AM

Germany cannot ‘lead on Russian issue’ because of failed attempts at peace

Germany cannot lead on the West’s response to Russia because talks led by the country over the last eight years have not been fruitful, Olha Stefanishyna, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister has said.

“I don’t think that Germany can now lead on the Russian issue because it effectively has been leading the Normandy format over the past eight years and this has not resulted in any peaceful settlement,” she told EURACTIV.

Talks in the Normandy format, between Germany, Russia, Ukraine and France, have stalled since November. They began after the eruption of the conflict in eastern Ukraine in 2014.

Stefanishyna added that in “this time of crisis, the long-lasting rhetoric of Germans not willing to irritate Russia has become too materialised”.

“It has been put on the top of the list – not the interests of Ukraine, not peaceful settlement, not efforts of Ukraine to stabilise its economy, but our willingness to irritate Russia."

08:18 AM

Boris Johnson: intelligence suggests 'lightning war'

Mr Johnson said on Monday that "gloomy" intelligence suggested Russia was planning a lightning raid on Kyiv, prompting the order for British embassy staff and their families to begin leaving the Ukrainian capital.

The Prime Minister said: "The intelligence is very clear that there are 60 Russian battle groups on the borders of Ukraine, the plan for a lightning war that could take out Kyiv is one that everybody can see.

“We need to make it very clear to the Kremlin, to Russia, that that would be a disastrous step.”

He warned that the people of Ukraine would resist any invasion and “from a Russian perspective, [it] is going to be a painful, violent and bloody business”, he said, adding: “I think it's very important that people in Russia understand that this could be a new Chechnya.”

Reflecting on Mr Biden’s misspoken suggestion that a “minor incursion” may result in a more measured response by the US and its allies, Mr Johnson said: “Any incursion, of any kind, of any dimension, into Ukraine is not going to be a cost-free business," adding: "There will be casualties.”

08:06 AM

Joe Biden prepares troops

Joe Biden, the US president, was preparing to send thousands of US troops to eastern Europe and the Baltic states on Monday to deter a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Amid growing tension, the Pentagon announced that 8,500 US-based soldiers were on “heightened alert” for deployment in the region after weeks of restraint.

In a video conference call with European leaders, Mr Biden discussed the possible mobilisation of thousands of troops to Nato member states bordering Russia, with a further 45,000 on standby if the situation continues to deteriorate.

Nato ramped up its response to Russian aggression, sending warships and fighter aircraft to shore up its eastern flank.

Jens Stoltenberg, Nato’s secretary-general, said more troops could also soon be deployed to countries near Ukraine.

The additional battlegroups would be unlikely to enter Ukraine in an event of a Russian invasion, but protect Nato members on its fringes.

In a marked shift in strategy, the US said it was prepared to boost 4,600 Nato troops already in Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Poland before any further Russian activity. Previously, the US had threatened to mobilise only if Russian troops crossed into Ukraine.

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