British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said on Monday that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plan to invade Ukraine “has already begun”.
The spokesman’s comments came hours after Secretary of State Liz Truss warned that a Russian invasion of Ukraine “looks highly likely”.
After a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Truss said the alliance’s allies were “stepping up preparations for the worst-case scenario”.
The spokesman described Truss’s comments as “our assessment” and said the intelligence they were dealing with “indicates that Russia intends to launch an invasion.”
“We are seeing elements of the Russian evidence that we expect to see in certain situations starting to emerge in real time,” the spokesman said.
The spokesman reiterated that Britain was working with NATO allies, adding that intelligence reports indicated that Russia still planned to launch an invasion.
“We are ready to act as necessary,” the spokesman said. However, he noted that they still believed there was a place for diplomacy and that they wanted to “explore it”.
Recognition as independent states
Hours after these UK statements, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday officially recognized the Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states and signed relevant agreements with separatist leaders in the Kremlin.
Tensions along the Ukraine-Russia border escalated sharply late last week with reports of a growing number of ceasefire violations, multiple shelling incidents and the suspected evacuation of civilians from the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, which are controlled by pro-Russian separatists.
Western countries have accused Russia of massing more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine, raising fears that Moscow may be planning a military attack against its neighbour, the former Soviet republic.
Moscow has repeatedly denied there were any plans to invade Ukraine, instead accusing Western countries of undermining Russia’s security through NATO’s expansion to its borders.
* Translated by Daniel Gallego.
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