Ukraine news - live: US says Russia could invade next month as UK warns of cyber-warfare

·37 min read

US President Joe Biden has warned there is a “distinct possibility” Russia might invade Ukraine next month, the White House says.

Russia meanwhile says it sees “little ground for optimism” in resolving the crisis after the US rejected the Kremlin’s main demands.

Russia says it does not want war but has placed a “gun on the table” in its negotiations with the United States by massing troops on Ukraine's borders, U.S. Ambassador to Moscow John Sullivan said on Friday.

In an online briefing from Moscow, Sullivan described the buildup of tens of thousands of Russian troops as "extraordinary" and said it could not be explained as an ordinary military exercise or exercises.

It comes as British organisations have been warned to bolster their digital defences due to “malicious” cyber incidents in Ukraine.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has updated its guidance to UK firms and groups and said it is investigating the recent reports of “malicious cyber incidents in Ukraine”.

Key Points

  • Five killed after Ukranian soldier fires at a military factory

  • US threatens future of Nord Stream 2 should invasion occur

  • Biden dials Ukraine’s Zelenskyy: ‘...If Russia further invades Ukraine’

  • US wants UN meet over ‘Russia’s threatening behaviour’

  • Taiwan extends empathy with Ukraine, cites China’s military action

  • Davis-Monthan Air Force Base to help if Russia invades Ukraine

Russia says it wants peace but has ‘gun on the table’ - US envoy

12:31 , Thomas Kingsley

Russia says it does not want war but has placed a "gun on the table" in its negotiations with the United States by massing troops on Ukraine's borders, US ambassador to Moscow John Sullivan said on Friday.

In an online briefing from Moscow, Sullivan described the buildup of tens of thousands of Russian troops as "extraordinary" and said it could not be explained as an ordinary military exercise or exercises.

"It's the equivalent of if you and I were having a discussion or a negotiation. If I put a gun on the table and say that I come in peace, that's threatening," Sullivan told reporters. "And that's what we see now."

"We hope that the Russian government is true to its word, and does not plan to, and will not, further invade Ukraine. But the facts suggest that it has the present ability to do that," he said.

Over two in five support NATO military intervention if Russia invade Ukraine

12:15 , Thomas Kingsley

Over two in five UK adults would support Nato or US military intervention if Russia were to invade Ukraine (44 per cent), with just one in five opposed to this (19 per cent), according to new polling by Savanta ComRes.

The proportion who support Nato or US military intervention in the event of an invasion rises to almost half of both Conservative (47 per cent) and Labour (47 per cent) voters from 2019. Men (51 per cent) are significantly more likely than women (36 per cent) to support military intervention.

However, for UK adults, Nato or US economic sanctions against the Russian government (60 per cent) or Russian businesses (58 per cent) are more popular responses should Russia invade Ukraine. Furthermore, under one in ten oppose sanctions against either (8 per cent oppose to each).

The UK's Defence Minister has said that Britain has supplied Ukraine with short-range anti-tank missiles as self-defence, amid concerns about a Russian invasion, along with a small deployment of British troops to offer training to Ukrainian services.

Ukraine Tensions (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Ukraine Tensions (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Russia says it won't start a war as Ukraine tensions mount

12:00 , Thomas Kingsley

Russia's top diplomat said Friday that Moscow will not start a war but warned that it wouldn't allow the West to trample on its security interests amid fears it is planning to invade Ukraine.

U.S. President Joe Biden warned Ukraine's leader a day earlier that there is a "distinct possibility" that Russia could take military action against its neighbor in February.

"There won't be a war as far as it depends on the Russian Federation, we don't want a war," Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in a live interview with Russian radio stations. "But we won't let our interests be rudely trampled on and ignored."


UK urges Putin to ‘de-escalate’ Ukraine tensions

11:47 , Thomas Kingsley

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been urged to "de-escalate" the military build-up on the border of Ukraine as the international community steps up retaliation threats in the event of an invasion.

UK minister Chris Philp said Moscow should "get to the table" to resolve the tension peacefully as he warned of "very serious" sanctions should Russian troops make an incursion into neighbouring territory.

It came after US President Joe Biden told Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyyon there is a "distinct possibility" that Russia could take military action against Ukraine in February.

One of the threats Washington has put on the table is to halt the opening of a key gas pipeline, Nord Stream 2, between Russia and western Europe if the Kremlin's forces advance.


US fears dirty money in ‘Londongrad’ can affect sanctions on Russia

11:09 , Arpan Rai

Officials from the Biden administration are suspecting the flow of dirty money into London could affect efforts to sanction Russia over the Ukraine crisis.

Expressing “dismay and frustration”, the US state department officials are looking at the British administration’s failure to stop the flow of Russian funds into the city dubbed as “Londongrad”, reported The Times.

“The fear is that Russian money is so entrenched in London now that the opportunity to use it as leverage against Putin could be lost,” the report citing a source said.

“Biden is talking about sanctioning Putin himself but that can only be symbolic. Putin doesn’t hold his money abroad, it is all in the kleptocrats’ names and a hell of a lot of it is sitting in houses in Knightsbridge and Belgravia right under your government’s noses,” the source said.

Thomas Kingsley has a full report here

Why Germany won’t arm Ukraine even if it upsets allies

10:59 , Arpan Rai

Ukraine’s request for defensive weapons as it stares at a potential threat of invasion from Russia are falling on Germany’s deaf ear.

Despite being a country which account’s for fourth largest export of weapons in the world and sells state-of-the-art arms worth billions of dollars to countries with spotty human rights records like Qatar and Saudi Arabia without hesitation, Germany is not aiding Ukraine.

Germany has long held a global wish to recognised as a global peacemaker and prides itself for placing strict controls on the arms leaving its territory for exports.

But there’s more to what meet meets the eye. It carries the shame and lessors it learned from starting two world wards. Germany also has a dark legacy of mercenary arms makers like Krupp that once so happily sold deadly weapons to all.

Yet Berlin stands firm.

Sticking to its guns: Why Germany is refusing to arm Ukraine even if it upsets allies

Erik Kirschbaum explains in this report why.

What to expect from Macron-Putin talks today

10:42 , Arpan Rai

French president Emmanuel Macron will be holding a telephonic conversation with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin as nations gauge the road ahead for the Ukraine crisis.

Mr Macron is expected to use the conversation as an opportunity to see exactly where Russia stands in the current situation. He is also likely to get clarifications from Mr

Putin and emphasise on the fact that an impending invasion by the Russian side could result in serious consequences.

In the course of five years of presidency, Mr Macron has pushed for talks with his Russian counterpart, at times leading to flustering of his European Union allies.

The call between the two leaders comes at a time Western alliance is flagging potential threats of invasion from Russia into Ukraine, while the former has denied any such intentions.

Russia’s Lavrov to speak to Germany’s Baerbock today over phone

10:16 , Arpan Rai

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is set to talk to his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock today over a telephonic conversation as the regional tension brews.

The talks between the two leaders come at a time Russia is eyeing a green light from German regulatory authorities over the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

Nord Stream 2 is known to be the most contentious energy project in Europe as it will double the amount of gas flowing from Russia straight to Germany. In doing so, it will bypass the traditional transit nation — Ukraine — situated on the bed of the Baltic sea.

The Independent’s AMA: Kim Sengupta answers your questions on Russia-Ukraine crisis

10:10 , Arpan Rai

The threat of a war in Europe continues to ominously simmer, while the window to find a diplomatic resolution to the Ukrainian crisis is closing fast.

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine, backed by the Western alliance, would have disastrous consequences for the country and ripples of major international ramifications.

How have we come to this point? And what does the future hold?

Kim Sengupta, The Independent’s World Affairs Editor covered the last Ukraine conflict and is reporting from there now.

I will be here to answer your questions live at 1.30pm UK time on Friday 28 January. If big news breaks here, I may have to postpone but I will get to your questions as soon as I can. All you have to do is register and send in your questions using the comments section here.

Join us then, on this page at 1.30pm, as I answer as many of your questions as I can.

Deadly attack by soldier fuels conspiracy theories in nervy Ukraine

09:27 , Arpan Rai

A wave of speculations were sparked on Thursday after five were killed in a shooting at the Makarov Yuzhny Machine-Building Plant in Dnipro.

The gunman, a 21-year-old young conscript, had suddenly opened fire with his army issue AK-47 rifle. At least another five were wounded in the shooting while the guns were being handed out to the soldier.

While the man, Artem Ryabchuk, was arrested a few hours after fleeing the spot, the motives behind his actions were not clear, officials said.

Just moments later, the incident fuelled immediate traffic on social media as people claimed they had seen “proof” that the young man was a Russian agent.

Some asserted that this was the first mission in a murder campaign which will follow.

World Affairs Editor Kim Sengupta reports from Kharkiv on this

Ukraine-Russia Explained: A simple guide to what’s going on

09:20 , Arpan Rai

Russia has amassed tens of thousands of troops along its border with Ukraine in recent months, increasing suspicion that an invasion is imminent. World leaders including the US, Nato and the European Union have warned Russia against any aggression, insisting that there will be retaliation if it attacks Ukraine.

So what is actually going on between Ukraine and Russia, where did it all begin, and how might the crisis unfold?

The Independent’s Thomas Kingsley goes back eight years to give the current crisis more context.

Ukraine-Russia explained: A simple guide to what’s going on

War only if Belarus or Russia attacked, says Lukashenko

09:10 , Arpan Rai

Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko said Minsk has absolutely no interest in a war, refuting predictions by Western alliance of an impending invasion by Russia in February.

A conflict would only break out, Mr Lukashenko said, if Belarus or its close ally Russia were directly attacked.

The leader was speaking with the lawmakers and Belarusian officials ahead of joint drills between Moscow and Minsk next month.

The drills have added to the concerns of the West, in addition to the tens of thousands of Russian troops along the border of Ukraine.

Mr Lukashenko said that the drills would help Minsk understand where it needed to concentrate forces and that Belarus had to protect its southern flank with Ukraine.

Brace for Russian cyber attacks, security chiefs warn British firms

09:01 , Arpan Rai

The security chiefs have warned British organisations to bolster their digital defences in the anticipation of “malicious” cyber incidents in Ukraine.

The National Cyber Security Centre has said it is investigating the reports of cyber breaches reported from the european country, as it updated its guidance for the UK firms.

The security centre added that it has not identified any current threats to the UK. However, it wants organisation to “build resilience and stay ahead of potential threats”, the NCSC said.

Benjamin Cooper reports on this here

Dialogue with Russia still possible, says French minister

08:24 , Arpan Rai

The crisis brewing over Ukraine is very tense but a dialogue with the Russia was still possible, French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Friday.

“It is up to Vladimir Putin to say if he wants consultation or confrontation,” the top French minister said.

This comes ahead of French president Emmanuel Macron’s telephonic discussion with Russian president Vladimir Putin on Friday as he seeks clarification from the leader over fears of an invasion by the Kremlin.

The foreign minister said that “we are in a situation of great tension over Ukraine.

Russia not going to attack anyone: Official

07:57 , Arpan Rai

A Russian official has said that the country is not going to attack anyone, contradicting the Western alliance’s prediction, stating that Russia does not see any grounds for the “impending invasion” assertions.

“For our part, we have said many times that our country is not going to attack anyone. We consider unacceptable even the idea of a war between our peoples,” said Alexey Zaitsev, deputy director of the information and press department.

The official rejected all the claims about an expected invasion, and said that the “Ukraine’s handlers” are fuelling tensions artificially.

“They seem to be determined to stick to their story that Russia is supposed to attack Ukraine, infuriating the entire West. They are doing all they can to make it a reality,” Mr Zaitsev said on Thursday.

He added: “When something goes wrong with their plan, they start fuelling tensions artificially: order the evacuation of their embassy personnel from Kiev, increase arms supplies and yell even louder about the mythical Russian threat. They even specify the time they are planning for Russia to “attack” Ukraine somewhere between today and the middle of February.”

Davis-Monthan Air Force Base to help if Russia invades Ukraine

07:00 , Arpan Rai

The Pentagon has said Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson can be roped in to help Ukraine if Russia invades the european country under conflict.

Identification of the Tucson air force base by the Pentagon was announced by press secretary John Kirby on Thursday.

At least 8,500 troops are on high-alert preparedness, of which some are from Davis-Monthan, to leave for Ukraine in the event of an invasion.

The units include medical support, aviation support, logistics support and combat formations, the press secretary said.

Officials from the defense department said the buildup of forces in the western part of Russia and Belarus is being monitored.

Military units like Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort Campbell in Kentucky, Fort Carson in Colorado, Fort Hood in Texas, Fort Polk in Louisiana, Robins Air Force Base and Fort Stewart in Georgia and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio have also been kept on heightened preparedness.

Why US is naming and shaming Russian disinformation on Ukraine

06:33 , Arpan Rai

Setting a new trend in its disclosure policy, the US and its allies have confronted Russia’s readiness to invade Ukraine by increasingly revealing their intelligence findings.

According to the experts, the White House has been credited for declassifying intelligence and swiftly identifying false claims before they are made. It serves as a so-called “prebuttal” which while reduces their effectiveness but is better than an after-the-fact explanation.

In the recent weeks, the White House has said it was working on a Russian “false-flag” operation which could allow a pretext for an invasion.

Washington’s ally Britain named specific Ukrainians allegedly having connections with Russia’s intelligence officers as they planned to overthrow the Ukrainian president.

In another piece of evidence, the US showed a map of Russian military positions, explaining how Ukraine can be attacked by as many as 175,000 troops from Russia.

The White House has also been flagging disinformation and sharing additional intelligence with Ukraine privately.

Officials have said that the US is much more cognizant of the Russian disinformation machine than they were in 2014.

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary explained a “strategic decision to call out disinformation when we see it.”She added: “We need to be very clear with the global community and the US public what they’re trying to do and why.”

Taiwan empathises with Ukraine: ‘Military is definitely not an option to resolve disputes’

05:53 , Arpan Rai

Extending empathy to Ukraine, Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen said force was not the solution to resolving disputes as Russia and the european country remain in a stand-off.

The Taiwanese president compared Ukraine’s situation with its own, comparing it with the military threats shown by China, adding that it needs close attention.

“Taiwan has faced military threats and intimidation from China for a long time. Therefore, we empathize with Ukraine‘s situation, and we also support the efforts of all parties to maintain regional security,” the president said on Friday.

She added: “The military is definitely not an option to resolve disputes - this is a universal truth.”

The self-governed Asian island’s administration has asked the National Security Council to set up a working group to monitor the situation in Ukraine and gauge possible impact on Taiwan’s security.

President Tsai said that peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the Indo-Pacific region is not only the shared responsibility of all parties, but also the common expectation of the international community.

This comes at a time Taiwan has been reporting increased Chinese military activity and diplomatic intimidation from China over the past two years amid dominant sovereignty claims. China has been accused of sending mostly flights into Taiwan’s island air defence zone.

Call between Biden-Zelensky did not go well, says report

05:15 , Arpan Rai

The call made from the White House to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky assessing risk levels of an attack from Russia reportedly “did not go well”, according to a report by CNN.

On the call, US president Joe Biden reportedly warned his Ukrainian counterpart about a likely imminent attack from Russia which Ukraine has said is not certain, reported CNN, citing a senior Ukrainian official.

The White House has rejected the claims of Ukrainian leader, stating that the anonymous sources were “leaking falsehoods”.

According to the senior Ukrainian leader, the US president did warn his Ukrainian counterpart that an imminent invasion is a “distinct possibility”, the report added.

Ukrainian official said that the call with Mr Biden was “long and frank”.

The Ukrainian president told Mr Biden that the threat from Russia remains “dangerous but ambiguous”.

He added that it is not certain that an attack will take place, the report added.

US calls for a UN meeting against ‘Russia’s threatening behaviour against Ukraine’

04:10 , Arpan Rai

The United States has sought an open meeting of the UN Security Council next Monday as it flagged Russia’s “threatening behaviour” for posing a “clear threat to international peace” as the crisis with Ukraine escalates to a war-like situation.

Calling “Russia’s threatening behavior against Ukraine and the build-up of Russian troops on Ukraine’s borders and in Belarus” a crucial matter, the US has said “this is not a moment to wait and see”.

“More than 100,000 Russian troops are deployed on the Ukrainian border and Russia is engaging in other destabilizing acts aimed at Ukraine, posing a clear threat to international peace and security and the UN Charter,” said US’s United Nations envoy Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

As we continue our relentless pursuit of diplomacy to de-escalate tensions, the UN envoy said the 15-member Security Council “must squarely examine the facts and consider what is at stake for Ukraine, for Russia, for Europe, and for the core obligations and principles of the international order should Russia further invade Ukraine.”

The Council’s full attention is needed now, and we look forward to direct and purposeful discussion on Monday, the US said, urging the UNSC to hold the emergency meeting on Monday.

ICYMI: Soldier detained after five shot dead at military factory

04:00 , Justin Vallejo

A Ukrainian National Guard soldier who killed five people and wounded five others after opening fire on security guards at a military factory has been detained, police have confirmed.

The shooting took place on Thursday morning at the Pivdenmash missile factory in Dnipro in central Ukraine, some 500 kilometres (310 miles) southeast of Kiev, as weapons were being issued. The victims included four servicemen and one civilian woman.

The Independent’s Rory Sullivan has the story.

Ukraine: Soldier detained after five shot dead at military factory

Biden dials Ukraine’s Zelenskyy: ‘If Russia further invades Ukraine...'

03:52 , Arpan Rai

President Joe Biden on Thursday warned Ukraine’s president about a “distinct possibility” that Russia could invade the European country in February, assuring it of Western alliance’s decisive response.

“I spoke with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy to discuss our coordinated diplomatic efforts and reaffirm our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We will respond decisively — along with our Allies and partners — if Russia further invades Ukraine,” president Biden said in a tweet on Friday.

In the last year, Washington has aided Ukraine with over half a billion dollars in development and humanitarian assistance, while exploring “additional macroeconomic support to help Ukraine’s economy amidst pressure resulting from Russia’s military build-up”, the White House said in a statement.

The president’s remarks to Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy over the phone call underlined the administration’s concerns.

“President Biden said that there is a distinct possibility that the Russians could invade Ukraine in February,” said White House national security council spokesperson Emily Horne said.

“He has said this publicly and we have been warning about this for months.

Mr Biden also assured Ukraine that despite the departure of American family members of embassy personnel, the US Embassy in Kyiv, remains open and fully operational.

“The leaders discussed coordinated diplomatic efforts on European security, underscoring the principle of ‘nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine’,” the White House said.

Kremlin has also echoed the White House’s concern and said it saw “little ground for optimism” in resolving the crisis after US rejected Russia’s demands in a written response.

Russia has not ruled out a dialogue to mitigate the crisis.

Ukraine-Russia map: Where could invasion take place

03:00 , Justin Vallejo

Russian president Vladimir Putin has dispatched more than 106,000 soldiers to the country’s border with Ukraine in a show of military might ahead of what international observers fear could be an invasion.

The Independent’s Joe Sommerlad has two maps to explain Ukraine’s frought situation, the first shows its borders within continental Europe. The second details the placement of its cities in relation to the buildup of Russian troops, tanks, armoured vehicles and artillery units, which are currently clustered around the eastern front surrounding the Donbas region of Ukraine where Donetsk and Luhansk are situated.

Map of Ukraine-Russia region as crisis deepens in Europe

NATO statement urges Russia to pull troops back

02:00 , John Bowden

A statement from Nato’s secretary-general on Thursday urged Russia to immediately reduce tensions across Europe with a decision to move troops out of internationally-contested areas in Crimea, Moldova, and Georgia.

Jens Stoltenberg made the comments hours before President Joe Biden would warn Ukraine’s president on a phone call that a Russian invasion was imminent and could end with Kiev being “sacked”, according to multiple news reports citing the office of Ukraine’s president.

“Russia should refrain from coercive force posturing, aggressive rhetoric, and malign activities directed against Allies and other nations,” said Mr Stoltentberg.

“Russia should also withdraw its forces from Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova, where they are deployed without these countries’ consent, and all parties should engage constructively in efforts to settle conflicts, including in the Normandy format,” he continued.

Russia increases troop levels near Ukraine, says Pentagon

01:30 , John Bowden

A spokesman for the Pentagon asserted on Thursday that within the past 24 hours Russian troop buildups near Ukraine including in neighbouring Belarus, which is aligned with Moscow, have continued to increase.

“We continue to see, including in the last 24 hours, more accumulation of credible combat forces arrayed by the Russians in, again, the western part of their country and in Belarus,” John Kirby said at his news briefing.

The US has not pledged military aid to Ukraine in the event of an invasion, but put more than 8,000 troops on standby for deployment to Europe should the security situation continue “deteriorating”, Mr Kirby said on Thursday.

Rhetoric shows no signs of cooling down

01:00 , John Bowden

Thursday ended with both Russia and the US continuing to posture around the issue of Ukraine while the country’s government pleads for cooler heads to prevail.

State Department spokesman Ned Price confirmed that the US would take action to stop the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline if Russia invades, while the White House has continued all week to promise more damaging sanctions targeting Russian officials.

Moscow’s foreign ministry meanwhile continued to demand that Ukraine and other former members of the Soviet bloc be permanently excluded from Nato membership, which the US is not willing to do, and insisted that countries cease efforts to prepare for what many believe is an imminent Russian incursion onto Nato’s doorstep.

White House pushes back on characterisation of Zelensky call

00:30 , John Bowden

A spokesperson for the White House pushed back on the assertion that President Joe Biden added new urgency to his warnings of Russian aggression on Thursday during his call with Volodymyr Zelesnky, despite the Ukrainian president’s office confirming the details of news reports on the call to journalists.

According to the White House, Mr Biden reiterated that a Russian invasion was possible in February, as he has supposedly been warning for months. The spokesperson did not address whether Mr Biden had said Kiev could be “sacked”, or that he had used the phrase “prepare for impact”.

“This is not true. President Biden said that there is a distinct possibility that the Russians could invade Ukraine in February. He has previously said this publicly & we have been warning about this for months. Reports of anything more or different than that are completely false,” tweeted Emily Horne, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council.

Ukraine disagrees with Biden assessment

00:00 , John Bowden

BuzzFeed News reported on Thursday that sources in Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed the dire warning that Joe Biden issued to Mr Zelesnky about an imminent Russian invasion, but disagreed with his assessment of the situation.

Mr Zelensky’s call with Mr Biden on Thursday comes as the US issued a new threat to end Russia’s efforts to construct a natural gas pipeline to the European Union should an invasion occur.

US is asking China to persuade Russia against war, State Department says

Thursday 27 January 2022 23:30 , John Bowden

A senior State Department official said on Thursday that the US was urging Chinese officials to use the influence they have in Moscow to urge Russia’s government against war with Ukraine.

"We are calling on Beijing to use its influence with Moscow to urge diplomacy, because if there is a conflict in the Ukraine it is not going to be good for China either," said Heather Nuland, the US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. "There will be a significant impact on the global economy. There will be a significant impact in the energy sphere."

She made the comments on Thursday at a State Department news briefing.

Ukraine warns west: No concessions without our input

Thursday 27 January 2022 22:56 , John Bowden

Ukraine’s foreign minister warned pointedly on Tuesday that his country would not accept any demands unilaterally imposed by US, European or Russian negotiators and would instead insist on having a seat at the table when determining the destiny of its territories.

Volodymyr Zelensky’s government "will not allow anyone to impose any concessions on us", his top foreign official told CNN.

"We paid a lot -- including 15,000 lives of our citizens -- to secure the right to decide our own future, our own destiny," said Dmytro Kuleba.

Biden warned Ukraine’s president Kiev could be ‘sacked'

Thursday 27 January 2022 22:12 , John Bowden

President Joe Biden portrayed a Russian invasion as a near-certainty on a call with Ukraine’s president on Thursday, according to a top Ukrainian official.

The unnamed official in Ukraine’s government told CNN that Mr Biden warned that Russian forces may occupy Ukraine’s capital, Kyev, which the US president said could be “sacked”.

Ukraine should “prepare for impact” was Mr Biden’s advice, according to the official, who said that the US president reiterated that the US would not be sending significantly more aid to the country in the days ahead and would not use US troops to defend Ukraine’s territory.

A readout of the call released by the White House made no mention of the above prediction by the president.

Kirby: 8,500 US troops ready to deploy to Europe

Thursday 27 January 2022 21:10 , John Bowden

The Pentagon’s chief spokesman said on Thursday that thousands of US troops were now on standby for deployment to Europe in the event of a Russian incursion, a move meant to reassure NATO allies in the region.

The troops are not meant for a defence of Ukraine, but rather to shore up NATO defensive positions around Eastern and Central Europe in the event of Russia moving closer to the doorstep of the alliance’s members.

Secretary Lloyd Austin’s decision “increases our readiness to provide forces if NATO activates the [NATO response force],” said Mr Kirby, who added that additional assets would be deployed to the region in the event of a “deteriorating security situation”.

“No decisions have been made to deploy any troops from the United States at this time,” Mr Kirby cautioned reporters, adding that “no mission” had yet been assigned to the troops involved.

Pentagon: Diplomacy has not achieved results that ‘we would like to see'

Thursday 27 January 2022 20:49 , John Bowden

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby updated reporters on the ongoing status of negotiations between the US and Russia on Thursday as the US military and those of its NATO allies openly prepare for a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine.

While the US has not pledged ground troops to Ukraine’s aid in the event of an invasion, any incursion would still occur on the doorstep of several NATO countries.

"We still believe there is time and space for diplomacy but thus far it has not achieved the kind of results that the international community would like to see,” said Mr Kirby at a press briefing.

Zelensky expected to ask Biden to tone down rhetoric

Thursday 27 January 2022 20:00 , John Bowden

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, is set to speak with Joe Biden later on Thursday as Russia’s troop buildup near his country’s borders continues.

During the call, the Ukrainian president is expected to ask his US counterpart to tone down his language regarding the likelihood of a Russian attack, and to specifically refrain from suggesting that one is “imminent”, CNN reported on Thursday afternoon.

CNN host attacks Fox News over Tucker Carlson’s Russia comments

Thursday 27 January 2022 19:45 , John Bowden

CNN’s Jim Acosta sharply criticised Fox News on his show on Wednesday for “allowing one its top-rated hosts to spew pro-Putin propaganda”.

His remarks came after a Democratic congressman tweeted that his office was inundated with calls from Mr Carlson’s viewers “siding with Russia in its threats to invade Ukraine.

Watch below, from CNN:

China warns against NATO expansion amid Ukraine tensions

Thursday 27 January 2022 19:15 , John Bowden

China’s foreign ministry appears to be siding with Moscow as its neighbour to the north continues to buildup troops in eastern Europe and faces accusations of a plan to invade Ukraine.

Wang Yi, Beijing’s foreign minister, warned on Thursday at his daily press briefing against the expansion of military blocs, clearly referring to Ukraine’s desire to join the US-backed NATO alliance.

“Regional security cannot be guaranteed by strengthening or even expanding military blocs,” he said, according to the agency.

Russian foreign ministry official accuses US of wanting to move missiles near territory

Thursday 27 January 2022 18:52 , John Bowden

A Russian official laid out Moscow’s fears of the US-backed military presence across Europe on Thursday, explaining that Washington and Russian leaders must come to an accord on the deployment of weapons systems in eastern Europe.

Ukraine’s desire to join NATO is commonly seen as on of the main reasons for the tensions which in recent months have led to the buildup of Russian troops near Ukraine’s border.

"We continue to insist it is a priority to reach a principled understanding that the problems in this area must be urgently addressed. Otherwise, new ‘missile crises’ are unavoidable," Vladimir Ermakov said on Thursday.

Ukraine’s foreign minister, meanwhile, said that recent developments indicated that diplomatic efforts to resolve the situation appeared to be continuing for at least the next several weeks.

Rory Sullivan has the latest developments from Russia and Ukraine:

‘Not just about Ukraine’: Why Romania is one of Kiev’s strongest supporters in Russia dispute

Thursday 27 January 2022 18:15 , John Bowden

Romania’s president reiterated support for Kiev on Wednesday, calling the issue of Russian aggression a threat to the entire European bloc.

President Klaus Iohannis said in a statement that his country, which is a part of NATO and shared a northern border with Ukraine, must be “prepared for any possible scenario” in the days ahead, including a major Russian incursion into Ukrainian territory.

“The crisis is not just about Ukraine, security on the Black Sea, or European security, but about the security of the Euro-Atlantic area,” said Mr Iohannis.

Borzou Daragahi has the story about why Ukraine’s neighbours are worried about Russia’s plans:

Why Romania is one of Kiev’s strongest supporters in Russia dispute

Biden ignores shouted questions on Ukraine at Breyer event

Thursday 27 January 2022 17:52 , John Bowden

President Joe Biden declined to take questions at his event on Thursday announcing the retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer from the Supreme Court, declaring that it would be “inappropriate” to do so while the still-sitting justice was in the room.

As he left the event just before 1:00 p.m. at the White House, he ignored questions from reporters about whether he believed a peaceful solution to tension in Ukraine was still possible.

State Department says Nord Stream 2 is dead if Russia invades Ukraine

Thursday 27 January 2022 17:14 , John Bowden

State Department spokesman Ned Price vowed that the US would work with Germany to end Russia’s efforts to construct the planned Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which would carry natural gas harvested by the Russian Federation into the European Union, should Russian forces invade Ukraine in the coming days.

The threat is some of the Biden administration’s most explicit language about consequences it will seek to impose on Russia’s government should an incursion of Ukraine occur; for weeks the US has vowed tough economic sanctions and unspecified other measures in the event of an invasion, but stopped short of promising Ukraine direct military aid.

"I want to be very clear: If Russia invades Ukraine one way or another, Nord Stream 2 will not move forward," Mr Price told NPR on Wednesday.

He added: "I'm not going to get into the specifics. We will work with Germany to ensure it does not move forward."

Deadly attack by soldier fuels conspiracy theories in nervy Ukraine

Thursday 27 January 2022 16:16 , John Bowden

The shooting at the Makarov Yuzhny Machine-Building Plant in Dnipro was shocking and lethal. A young conscript had suddenly opened fire with his army issue AK-47 rifle, killing five soldiers and injuring five others.

The gunman, 21-year-old Artem Ryabchuk, fled. He was arrested a few hours later. The motives for his actions were not clear, say the authorities. Ukraine’s deputy interior minister, Anton Gerashchenko, announced that investigators would examine how the conscript passed a medical commission allowing him access to weapons.

But there was immediate traffic on social media from people who had apparently seen “proof” that the young man was a Russian agent. Some asserted that this was the first mission in a murder campaign which will follow.

That kind of reaction in the social media is perhaps unsurprising in the current uncertain and volatile scenario, with daily warnings of impending war.

Reporting from Ukraine, our defence and security editor Kim Sengupta has more here:

Deadly attack by soldier fuels conspiracy theories in nervy Ukraine

White House to host German chancellor to discuss Russia-Ukraine tensions

Thursday 27 January 2022 16:03 , Emily Atkinson

US President Joe Biden will hold talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on 7 February, the White House has announced.

Among a number of topics up for discussion between the two leaders is their “shared commitment to both ongoing diplomacy and joint efforts to deter further Russian aggression against Ukraine.”

A press release from Washington added: “Chancellor Scholz’ visit provides an opportunity to affirm the deep and enduring ties between the United States and Germany.

“They will also discuss the importance of continued close cooperation on a range of common challenges, including ending the COVID-19 pandemic, addressing the threat of climate change, and promoting economic prosperity and international security based on our shared democratic values.”

Ukraine approves of US response to Russia’s demands, says foreign affairs minister

Thursday 27 January 2022 15:52 , Emily Atkinson

‘Little ground for optimism’ in US response to Russian demands, says Kremlin

Thursday 27 January 2022 15:37 , Emily Atkinson

The Kremlin has said that the US response to Russia’s demands it says will improve security in Europe have left “little ground for optimism” in resolving tensions over Russia’s potential invasion of Ukraine.

Moscow spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, however added that “there always are prospects for continuing a dialogue, it’s in the interests of both us and the Americans.”

Peskov said the Russian reaction would come soon.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the US announcement could lead to “the start of a serious talk on secondary issues,” but emphasised that “the document contains no positive response on the main issue.”

Kremlin officials will offer proposals to Putin, Lavrov concluded.

Ukraine-Russia crisis: Your questions on what is happening answered live by Kim Sengupta

Thursday 27 January 2022 15:05 , Emily Atkinson

Kim Sengupta, The Independent’s World Affairs Editor, covered the last Ukraine conflict and is reporting from there now.

He will be answering your questions live from Ukraine in our latest ‘Ask Me Anything’ event at 1.30pm UK time on Friday 28 January.

All you have to do is register to submit your question in the comments section under the article below:

Your chance to ask our man in Ukraine anything as tensions with Russia rise

NATO-Russia missile crisis ‘unavoidable’ if no agreement reached, says Kremlin official

Thursday 27 January 2022 14:50 , Emily Atkinson

A missile crisis between NATO and Russia is “unavoidable” if no agreement is reached to ensure neither deploys short or intermediate-range (INF) nuclear missiles.

According to the TASS news agency, foreign ministry official Vladimir Ermakov said: “We continue to insist it is a priority to reach a principled understanding that the problems in this area must be urgently addressed. Otherwise, new ‘missile crises’ are unavoidable.

“We insist NATO’s ‘joint nuclear missions’ must immediately be stopped, all the American nuclear arms returned to the United States, and the infrastructure that allows it to ensure a rapid deployment liquidated,”

‘Nothing will be off the table, including Nord Stream 2’, says US German ambassador

Thursday 27 January 2022 14:25 , Emily Atkinson

US and Germany could target key Russian pipeline if it invades Ukraine

Thursday 27 January 2022 14:05 , Emily Atkinson

A US spokesman has said the Nord Stream 2 pipeline “will not move forward” if Russia were to attack Ukraine.

The contentious energy project running under the Baltic Sea is designed to double the flow of gas direct from Russia to Germany.

Speaking to NPR, Ned Price said: “I want to be very clear: if Russia invades Ukraine one way or another, Nord Stream 2 will not move forward,” he said, but added that he was “not going to get into the specifics” of how it would be stopped.

Germany’s foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, later told the German parliament they are working alongside NATO allies to devise “a strong package of sanctions” covering aspects “including Nord Stream.”

His biggest fight yet: Ukraine-Russia crisis pushes Vitali Klitschko centre stage

Thursday 27 January 2022 13:37 , Emily Atkinson

The mayor of Kiev, the former world heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, knows a thing or two about fighting.

But even he is daunted by a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine, the possibility of which has loomed large since Moscow massed tens of thousands of troops near the territory.

The 45-year-old, who turned to politics full-time after his retirement from boxing in 2013, has become a central voice in the crisis, which currently shows no signs of abating.

Rory Sullivan reports:

His biggest fight yet: Ukraine-Russia crisis pushes ​Vitali Klitschko centre stag

Watch: Russia holds navy drills in Black Sea as tensions with Ukraine grow

Thursday 27 January 2022 13:11 , Emily Atkinson

A fleet of 20 Russian warships have departed from their naval bases for drills in the Black Sea, as tensions continue to mount between Moscow and Ukraine, writes Shweta Sharma.

“The training exercise was aimed at practising the crews’ operations in the event of simultaneous threats both from the air and from the sea,” the Russian defence ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

The large-scale naval group, comprising frigates, patrol ships, missile ships, landing ships, anti-submarine ships, and minesweepers, left from their naval bases in Sevastopol and Novorossiysk for drills in the waters of the Black Sea, situated at the southeastern extremity of Europe.

Read more here.

Foreign secretary Liz Truss calls on Moscow to ‘de-escalate’

Thursday 27 January 2022 13:05 , Emily Atkinson

France pledges support to Romania amid security fears in eastern Europe

Thursday 27 January 2022 12:54 , Emily Atkinson

France’s defence minister has pledged its support to Romania, which shares over 600km of its border with northern neighbour Ukraine, through “difficult times”.

The comments were made at a meeting in Bucharest between Vasile Dincu and Florence Parly.

The two defence ministers also discussed Romania’s procurement of naval ships from its fellow NATO member.

“The current security situation is worrying on the eastern flank of Europe,” said Parly after the meeting.

“In this context, Romanians are rightly anxious to strengthen their own security, as tensions in Ukraine continue to escalate … we understand your situation and want to support you.”

She added that a “mission of experts from my ministry is arriving in Romania today to study the parameters of this possible deployment,” and that France is also “fully committed” to strengthen and help modernise Romania’s armed forces.

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