Russian troops move to ATTACK positions – US satellite images show Putin ready to invade

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Tensions between Moscow and Kiev have reached boiling point over recent months. In September, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy warned an all-out war with Russia could be a “possibility”. Since 2014, more than 14,000 people have been killed in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Now, according to a US official, Russian units have left their assembly areas.

Some long-range artillery and rocket launchers have also been moved into firing positions.

This comes as US President Joe Biden and NATO allies warned any Russian invasion of Ukraine would bring “swift and severe costs”.

Russia has denied planning to invade Ukraine but has tens of thousands of troops near its neighbour’s borders.

US officials believe Russia could launch an invasion of Ukraine this week, though there remains some hope that a diplomatic solution could be reached.

Russia has surrounded Ukraine on three sides, with more than 100,000 troops amassed at the border, but has always denied that an invasion is planned.

Dr Paul Flenley, who is a senior lecturer in politics at the University of Portsmouth and an expert in Russian foreign policy, told that the consequences of any invasion would be “enormous”.

He said: “I think the Russian population has not been prepared for an invasion of Ukraine and the consequences.

“Psychologically, the consequences would be enormous.

“It wouldn’t fit well with the whole rhetoric of Ukrainians as our brothers, and they should be part of a wider association.

“An invasion of Ukraine and taking Kiev would just be a disaster for all that ideology that Putin has.”

After World War 2, the western part of Ukraine merged with the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, making the whole country a part of the Soviet Union.

It regained its independence in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Many Russians, including Mr Putin and other figures within the Kremlin, still consider Ukraine a part of Russia.

Vladislav Surkov, Mr Putin’s right-hand man, dubbed ‘the most powerful man you’ve never heard of’, said in a 2020 interview that “there is no Ukraine”.

He said: “There is Ukrainian-ness. That is a specific disorder of the mind. An astonishing enthusiasm for ethnography, driven to the extreme.”

Though Russian is still widely spoken across Ukraine, Dr Flenley explained the country is very divided in terms of support for Russia.

He said: “Kiev is very different from eastern Ukraine, where there’s a degree of support for Russia and relative alienation from Kiev.

“But to take Kiev itself would be madness really, and would have repercussions for Russia at home.

“People would start complaining, ‘What are we doing invading our brothers in Kiev? We’re supposed to be brothers with the Ukrainians.’”

Dr Flenley also explained that simply invading would be no easy feat for Russia: “If you’re going to invade Ukraine and take Kiev, you’ve got to not only invade, but then secure it.

“You might be able to enter Kiev and then withdraw, but to actually hold Kiev and establish an alternative government, the logistics of that are enormous, especially against resistance.”

Dr Flenley questioned whether Russian troops might have as much passion to fight as Ukrainian troops would, so any invasion would be a “great gamble”.

He said: “They’d be questioning why we are invading Ukraine, especially when the body bags start going home, whereas Ukrainians would be fighting for their independence, so the passion would be much greater on the Ukrainian side.”

More to follow…

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