Russia fears: Poland and Ukraine could sparker wider conflict
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Amid fears of Russia preparing a launch offensive operation against Ukraine, world leaders including Mr Biden are warning President Vladimir Putin they are watching and ready to impose sanctions.
Sources have told Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs the US is “looking at sanctions if Russia advances against Ukraine”.
She wrote on Twitter: “The U.S. and its European allies are discussing potential responses if Putin takes military action against Ukraine, including fresh sanctions on Moscow and further security assistance for Kyiv.”
It echoes the words of Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg, who has said today: “We have seen large and unusual concentrations of Russian forces close to Ukraine’s borders.
“Nato remains vigilant…
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“Any further provocation or aggressive actions by Russia would be of serious concern.
“We call on Russia to be transparent about its military activities.”
His comments came at a meeting with Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba at the Nato headquarters in Brussels.
The two discussed “the security situation in and around Ukraine”.
Last week, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy claimed Russia had gathered close to 100,000 soldiers near Ukraine’s border.
Mr Stoltenberg cautioned Moscow may be “attempting to rehash” its March 2014 invasion, when it annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine.
He said: “We see an unusual concentration of troops, and we know that Russia has been willing to use these types of military capabilities before to conduct aggressive actions against Ukraine.”
Though the US and EU responded to the 2014 conflict with wide-ranging sanctions, it did not end there.
Since late last month, tanks, artillery and even short-range ballistic missiles on the move in the border regions of Ukraine and Belarus have been seen in satellite imagery and videos.
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The Kremlin has denied any plans to launch offensive operations against Ukraine but leaders are wary of Russia’s words and potential actions.
Meanwhile, Putin told state television in Moscow last weekend he was concerned about military drills by Nato warships in the Black Sea off Crimea.
He also complained of Ukraine’s use of Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drone strikes in Donbass as he said they violated a 2015 ceasefire agreement.
His claims could be a “classic example of a bit of distraction”, which is what Gen Sir Nick Carter, Britain’s most senior military officer, suggested the migrant crisis at the Poland-Belarus border is for Russia.
He told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show “we have to be on our guard” about Putin’s activities near Ukraine.
Mr Biden earlier this month dispatched Bill Burns, the CIA director, to Moscow to warn Putin the US was following the buildup closely.
People familiar with the White House discussions told Bloomberg “the Biden administration is already working up a menu of options to counter possible moves by Russia” and that the US’ counterparts were involved in talks too.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke with Putin last week, and calls to the president are also expected from French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.
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