Russia has invaded Ukraine, say both US and UK after tanks ‘roll in’

America joined Britain on Tuesday in accusing Vladimir Putin’s Russia of invading Ukraine with tanks spotted rolling into the east of the country.

The White House began referring to Russian troop deployments in eastern Ukraine as an "invasion" after initially hesitating to use the term.

During Tuesday’s press briefing, Joe Biden said the latest developments are “the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine”.

The president announced fresh sanctions against Russia during his statement on Tuesday evening - just hours after Vladimir Putin called for the “demilitarisation” of Ukraine to end the current crisis.

Mr Biden said the sanctions would cut Russia off from Western finances.

“We’re implementing full blocking sanctions on two large Russian financial institutions, VEB and their military bank,” he said.

“We’re implementing comprehensive sanctions on Russian sovereign debt. That means we’ve cut off Russia’s government from Western financing, it can no longer raise money from the West and cannot trade in its new debt on our markets or European markets either.”

He added: “As Russia contemplates its next move, we have our next move prepared as well. Russia will pay an even steeper price if it continues its aggression, including additional sanctions.”

It comes hours after Mr Putin urged the government in Kyiv to renounce its ambition to join Nato in a news conference in Moscow.

“This would mean that the Western leaders would not lose face,” he said, speaking through an interpreter.

Mr Putin expressed his concerns that Ukraine could develop nuclear weapons.

He added: “Even the appearance of tactical nuclear weaponry in Ukraine, for us this means a strategic threat.”

Earlier, Boris Johnson told Parliament Russia had invaded Ukraine and tore into Mr Putin’s speech on Monday night in which he claimed eastern Ukraine was ancient Russian land.

In a statement to MPs, the Prime Minister said: “In a single inflammatory speech, he denied that Ukraine had any tradition of genuine statehood, claimed that it posed a direct threat to the security of Russia and hurled numerous other false accusations and aspersions.”

Soon afterwards the Kremlin announced that Russian troops would enter breakaway regions in Ukraine, he added, stressing this was “under the guise of peacekeepers”.

While later on Tuesday Russian lawmakers gave Mr Putin permission to use military force outside the country - a move that could presage a broader attack on Ukraine.

In Brussels, Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said Russia is planning for a “full-scale” attack on its neighbour.

“Every indication is that Russia is continuing to plan for a full-scale attack of Ukraine,” he told a news conference on Tuesday.

Mr Johnson earlier told Parliament: “Russian tanks and armoured personnel carriers have since been spotted.

“The House should be in no doubt that the deployment of these forces in sovereign Ukrainian territory amounts to a renewed invasion of that country.”

Russia also annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

After footage emerged on Tuesday of suspected Russian tanks and other military vehicles in the east of Ukraine, Mr Johnson added: “I think honourable members will struggle to understand or to contemplate how in the year 2022 a national leader might calmly and deliberately plot the destruction of a peaceful neighbour.

“Yet the evidence of his own words suggest that is exactly what President Putin is doing.”

He stressed nearly 200,000 Russian military personnel were now massed around Ukraine’s borders, with thousands “at peak readiness to attack”.

The PM added: “We must now brace ourselves for the next possible stages of Putin’s plan.

“If the worst happens then a European nation of 44 million men, women and children would become the target of a full-scale war of aggression waged without a shred of justification for the absurd and even mystical reasons that Putin described last night.”

Downing Street said the military incursion into the self-declared republics of Donetsk and Luhansk amounted to a “renewed invasion of the country”.

While early Tuesday morning US time, the White House signalled a shift in its position on whether an invasion had taken place.

“We think this is, yes, the beginning of an invasion, Russia’s latest invasion into Ukraine,” said Jon Finer, principal deputy national security adviser.

“An invasion is an invasion and that is what is underway.”

The US administration resisted initially calling the deployment of troops because the White House wanted to see what Russia was actually going to do.

Mr Putin has ordered his Defence Ministry to despatch Russian forces to “perform peacekeeping functions” in the two breakaway regions, which have been the setting for a grinding war between Ukraine and Kremlin backed rebels since 2014.

Responding to the move, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “There is no doubt the deployment of these forces we have seen reported in sovereign Ukrainian territory amounts to renewed invasion of the country.

“President Putin has sent his troops in, he has broken international law, he has repudiated the Minsk agreement. We believe Russia’s actions overnight could well be a precursor to a full scale invasion.”

The Prime Minister earlier vowed to unleash a “barrage of sanctions” as part of the West’s attempts to avert at the 11th-hour a bloody war in Ukraine.

In other key developments:

  • Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov claimed Ukraine does not have a right to sovereignty, acording to the IFAX news agency, further fuelling fears of a full-scale invasion.

  • Moscow was reportedly urgently seeking medics to go to work in makeshift hospitals in Rostov, close to Ukraine. One doctor said: “Today we have been offered to go work at a temporary hospital in Rostov.

  • This is how they said it: ‘The salary will be high, your patients will be the wounded’.”

  • Mr Johnson claimed the Russian president had “completely torn up international law”, would have “gravely miscalculated” if Russia invades Ukraine, but is seemingly intent on capturing the capital Kiev.

  • He added: “I’m afraid all the evidence is that President Putin is indeed bent on a full-scale invasion of the Ukraine, the overrunning, the subjugation of an independent, sovereign European country and I think, let’s be absolutely clear, that will be absolutely catastrophic.”

  • Tens of thousands of Russian troops have moved within about 30 miles of the border with many of them now poised for an invasion, according to western officials, on multiple routes from Belarus in the north, Russia to the east, and annexed Crimea to the south. One official said there is a very strong possibility that this is just the next phase of the beginning, with Russian troop numbers going up and combat indicators getting worse.

  • Britain and other Nato allies will be at war with Russia if it attacks any of the 30 nations in the military alliance, Health Secretary Sajid Javid warned, telling ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “If a single Russian soldier’s foot enters a Nato territory then it will be war with all of Nato.”

  • The crisis sent the price of oil soaring towards $100 a barrel for the first time since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea.

  • Meanwhile, Russia’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday that the boundaries of two separatist Ukrainian regions that Moscow has formally recognised was a matter to be resolved in the future, the Interfax news agency reported.

  • A Russian-backed separatist leader said earlier that Moscow formally recognised the breakaway region of Donetsk within the wider boundaries of eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region, much of which is controlled by Ukrainian forces. The Kremlin regrets Germany’ suspension of certification of the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea gas pipeline project, designed to double the flow of Russian gas direct to Germany, Interfax news agency reported, citing Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov. The Kremlin hopes the delay of Nord Stream 2 is temporary, Interfax quoted him as saying.