AMERICA has vowed a “resolute and massive” response to a Russian invasion of Ukraine after reports it could happen on Wednesday.
The warning from U.S Secretary of State Anthony Blinken come during a phone call with his Russian counterpart, in the wake of fears an invasion is imminent.
US embassy staff have now been told to evacuate Ukraine as the 6000 Brits living there were also urged to leave immediately amid growing fears a Russian attack would shut down airspace.
Information received by the Secret Service, CIA and other intelligence services has even gone as far to outline the routes that individual Russian units will take, along with the roles they will play, it reports.
Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin are set to discuss the crisis today but ahead of that Blinken spoke to Sergei Lavrov.
“I spoke with Foreign Minister Lavrov today to urge a diplomatic resolution to Russia’s unprovoked military build-up around Ukraine,” Blinken tweet afterwards.
“I reiterated that further Russian aggression would be met with a resolute, massive, and united Transatlantic response.”
But in response Lavrov accused the United States of seeking to provoke a conflict in Ukraine, during a call with his US counterpart Antony Blinken.
Their talks come after U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Washington believes Putin could strike any day.
It was previously widely believed Russia would not attack before the end of the Winter Olympics on February 20 but the latest intelligence reports have cast doubt on that.
The imminent threat follows weeks of growing tension as Vladimir Putin’s build-up of troops and tanks continue to threaten Ukraine.
Sullivan echoed President Biden’s call for “all American citizens who remain in Ukraine to depart immediately”.
“We want to be crystal clear on this point. Any American in Ukraine should leave as soon as possible and in any event in the next 24 to 48 hours.
“The risk is now high enough and the threat is now immediate enough that this is what prudence demands.
“If you stay you are assuming risk, with no guarantee that there will be any other opportunity to leave and there is no prospect of a U.S. military evacuation in the event of a Russian invasion.”
Mr Sullivan said an attack would likely begin with aerial bombing and missile strikes, which would shut down transportation by air, rail, and roads.
His fears were echoed by MP Tobias Ellwood, chair of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee, who also said war was “inevitable”.
Biden and Putin are set to hold crunch talks at 4pm UK time while top US General Mark Milley has spoken with his Russian counterpart, General Valery Gerasimo.
Russia has been deploying military troops to the Ukraine border as Nato begins beefing up its own forces in the area.
Pentagon said it would send 3,000 combat troops from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to Poland to join 1,700 troops assembling there.
TROOPS HEAD TO UKRAINE
Last night, Brits were warned to leave Ukraine immediately as the imminent threat of war loomed.
Edinburgh-born healthcare firm boss Stuart McKenzie, 51, organised a 200-strong expat flag procession through Kiev in support of locals last week.
The dad-of-three is now planning to fly or drive his family to safety in Europe over the next 48 hours – but will return to support Ukraine.
Stuart – who is married to Ukrainian Lena, 49, and has children Victoria, 20, Robert, 14, and Stuart, 12 and has lived in Kiev for 28 years – said: “My priority is to protect my family.
“But I also plan to get my kids to safety then come back to help the Ukrainians in any way I can.
“That may mean organising or working with them but it might also mean picking up a gun – I’m prepared to do that because it’s the Russians who are the aggressors.”
But Ken Stewart, 54, and his Ukrainian wife Tania, 36, were stranded in their home north of Kiev last night because they don’t have a passport for their newborn baby Douglas.
Douglas was born on Monday, weighing 9lbs, by Caesarian section and Tania was still recovering in hospital as embassies ordered citizens to flee.
Ken, who’s also from Edinburgh, said: “We’re are in a difficult situation since we do not yet have Douglas’s birth certificate.
“So I am waiting until they come home and then I think we may leave and head west, where Tania has relatives just to be safe.”
Threats of a nuclear clash have now soared after it was revealed Russia moved its terrifying “atomic cannon” to within striking distance of a major city.
A battery of self-propelled guns capable of firing nuclear shells have been captured on video in the Russian town of Vesela Lopan, Bolgorod – just 10 miles from the Ukrainian border.
And civilians in Ukraine were attending open military training following reports that some 200,000 fully equipped Russian troops were on its borders.
The besieged country has increased exercises amid fears an invasion may come “at any time”.
Moscow has insisted its 140,000 troops on Ukraine’s southern and eastern borders plus tens of thousands more to the north in Belarus have no plans to invade.
But military satellites yesterday detected more massive military movements towards the Ukrainian frontier suggesting a push was imminent.
More than 30 tactical exercises involving the Russian Navy’s Caspian flotilla backed by helicopters and troops will ramp up tension near Ukraine’s southern border from today (Sun)
The exercises will be held around-the-clock day and night alongside menacing manoeuvres in the Black and Azov Seas until February 19.
Earlier this week, Boris Johnson said the continent stands at the “most dangerous point” since World War Two after flying to Poland to meet with leaders.
The Prime Minister stressed the chilling warning on a call with allies last night, including the US, Italy, France and Germany.
And the European Council, the European Commission and NATO chiefs were also listening in following the change of advice for Brits living in Ukraine.
This came as Vladimir Putin was warned that nuclear war could erupt if Ukraine joins NATO and accused the West of “complete disregard for our concerns” as peace talks failed.
A thousand British troops are now on standby for an invasion on top of the 350 Royal Marines on their way to Poland for joint Arctic warfare drills.
The UK has also offered to send warships and RAF jets, on top of 900 troops in Estonia as part of a Nato deterrence mission.
But armed forces minister James Heappey said British troops helping with training in Ukraine forces to use anti-tank missiles will be leaving the country this weekend.
“All of them will be withdrawn. There will be no British troops in Ukraine if there is to be a conflict there,” he told the BBC.
The US has also announced About 150 troops from the Florida National Guard who have been in Ukraine to help train Ukrainian forces are leaving the country.
Russia has been warned it faces financial consequences if it does invade Ukraine.