Putin ‘planning Russian blitzkrieg and nuclear blackmail to recreate USSR on EU border’

Ukraine: Putin has 'framed the debate' surrounding de-escalation

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According to papers, reportedly from Ukrainian intelligence, Moscow will attempt to use peace talks with the US as a facade for “large-scale military preparations” around Ukraine’s border. It warns trying to “pacify” Mr Putin “could lead from the growth of Russian regional aggression to a real world war and is a real threat of western democracy destruction”.

The papers, which analyse Russian military training, suggest there is “preparation for a modern blitzkrieg against Ukraine and other post-Soviet countries by strike units, airborne and special forces”.

Ukrainian intelligence believe Moscow has “chosen a strategy of nuclear blackmail”, the Mirror reported.

These include “spreading armed conflicts with elements of hybrid wars, intensifying espionage, provocations and sabotage, economic pressure and spreading global corruption” across the West.

Ukraine warned this is “to neutralise western influence and create a trading space” in a bid to return to the Soviet Union.

Tensions between Moscow and Kiev reached boiling point last year after Russia amassed more troops near the contested borders.

Since 2014, more than 14,000 people have been killed in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

In September, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy warned an all-out war with Russia could be a “possibility”.

Speaking at the Yalta European Strategy (YES) summit, Mr Zelenskiy said: “I think there can be.

“It’s the worst thing that could happen, but unfortunately there is that possibility.”

Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, warned if tensions between Moscow and Ukraine continue to rise, there could be a repeat of the Cuban missile crisis.

He said: “You know, it really could come to that.

“If things continue as they are, it is entirely possible by the logic of events to suddenly wake up and see yourself in something similar.”

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His comments came after Moscow accused Ukraine of moving heavy artillery towards the front line of fighting with pro-Russian separatists and failing to engage in a peace process.

Kiev denied Russian accusations that it plans to seize back territory by force and Mr Zelenskiy said in December that he was hopeful of reaching a new ceasefire deal.

Mr Putin said talk of an invasion is “provocative” and accused Ukraine and NATO of fanning tensions.

The head of the Russian armed forces, Valery Gerasimov, was quoted by Russian news agencies as telling foreign military attaches that the situation in eastern Ukraine was escalating and Kiev was to blame.

He said: “Deliveries of helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles and airplanes to Ukraine are pushing the Ukrainian authorities to take sharp and dangerous steps.

“Any provocations of the Ukrainian authorities by way of a forced settlement of the problems of Donbass will be suppressed.”

Last year, US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart went head to head in a video call as the relationship between the two nations began to sour.

After the call the 46th US President said: “I made it very clear, if in fact [Putin] invades Ukraine, there will be severe consequences.

“Economic consequences like none you’ve ever seen.”

Mr Biden also stated the US would increase American presence in NATO countries.

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