Liz Truss set to visit Vladimir Putin in Russia 'for talks'
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US President Joe Biden has warned that there is a “distinct possibility” Russia will invade Ukraine in February. Moscow has concerned many after saying it saw “little ground for optimism” in resolving the crisis as the country continues to amass troops on the border with Ukraine. White House National Security Council spokesperson Emily Horne said yesterday: “President Biden said that there is a distinct possibility that the Russians could invade Ukraine in February. “He has said this publicly and we have been warning about this for months.”
Russia has manoeuvred around 100,000 troops near the border with Ukraine, though Moscow has denied it plans to invade its former Soviet neighbour.
Eastern Europe has been the setting for tension between NATO and Russia for a long time, as Western countries try to prevent President Putin from taking more countries into his sphere of influence.
Fears surrounding a conflict were not eased in December when the Russian President threatened military action against NATO.
He said he will consider a military response if Russia feels threatened by the bloc of Western nations.
Mr Putin also railed against NATO enlargement since the fall of the Soviet Union and accused the west of turning Ukraine against Russia.
On the US’ support for Ukraine, he said: “What the United States is doing in Ukraine is at our doorstep.
“And they should understand that we have nowhere further to retreat to. Under [US] protection, they are arming and urging on extremists from a neighbouring country at Russia.
“Against Crimea, for instance. Do they think we’ll just watch idly?
“If our Western counterparts continue a clearly aggressive line, we will undertake proportionate military-technical countermeasures and will respond firmly to unfriendly steps.
“I’d like to stress that we are fully entitled to do that.”
Mr Putin repeated demands that the West make legal guarantees to ensure Russia’s security, but said he would have difficulty trusting the US to abide by a treaty.
He added: “We need long-term legally binding guarantees.
“You and I know well that even they, legal guarantees, cannot be trusted because the United States easily withdraws from all international agreements it loses interest in for one reason or another … giving no explanations whatsoever.”
Russia’s tension with Ukraine has worsened since the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Russia invaded and subsequently annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in a move that was condemned by Western countries.
The people of Crimea voted overwhelmingly in favour of leaving Ukraine in a referendum that Europe and the US said was illegal.
Despite international outcry, Russia formally incorporated Crimea as two Russian federal subjects – the Republic of Crimea and the federal city of Sevastopol.
President Putin insisted that Russia annexed Crimea to protect ethnic Russians from “far-right extremists”, whom Russia claimed overthrew then Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
In a 2015 documentary, President Putin said he took the decision only hours after the Ukrainian leader had fled Kiev.
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He said: “I told all my colleagues, ‘We are forced to begin the work to bring Crimea back into Russia.”
Mr Yanukovych fled to Russia in February 2014 after the months-long uprising, which saw security forces shoot dead at least 77 protesters in Kiev.
Ukraine would go on to usher in the first in a series of pro-European governments to replace him.
The ousting of Yanukovych provoked immediate unrest in the east of Ukraine bordering Russia, where pro-Kremlin sentiments are higher.
As the situation between Russia and the Ukraine worsens, the UK could play a pivotal role in combating Russia’s aggression.
Reports suggest hundreds more British troops could be sent to bolster NATO’s presence in Eastern Europe.
Sky News reports that Britain has been in talks with the US about potential deployments as the threat of a Russian invasion remains high.
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