Escalating fears of invasion.. Russian intelligence accused of communicating with former politicians in Ukraine and Biden briefed on the military situation
Amid mounting fears of a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine, US President Joe Biden met his national security team last night to discuss developments, while Britain accused Russia of seeking to install a pro-leader in Kiev.
The White House said that President Biden was briefed – yesterday evening, Saturday – on the current situation of Russian military operations near the borders of Ukraine, and that the meeting discussed US efforts to calm the situation through diplomacy and a set of deterrence measures that are coordinated with allies.
The White House added that Biden reiterated that his country would impose tough sanctions on Russia if it invaded Ukraine.
And White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki confirmed earlier that Washington intends to send Mi-17 military transport helicopters to Ukraine to support the defense capabilities of the Ukrainian army.
Psaki added that the US State Department also gave the green light to 3 allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to expedite the delivery of anti-armor missiles and other US weapons to Ukraine.
Western military aid has begun to flow into Ukraine, and US aid includes about 100 tons of lethal weapons.
Meanwhile, Britain and Belgium urged their nationals to avoid traveling to Ukraine, and the US State Department called on the families of its embassy employees in Kiev to leave the country, starting from Monday.
Ukrainians loyal to Moscow
The British Foreign Office said in a statement it had information that Russia was seeking to install a pro-Russian leader in Ukraine.
The statement said the former deputy of the Verkhovna Rada Yevgeny Murrayev is a potential candidate “but he is not the only one”.
The British Foreign Office added, “We have information that Russian intelligence services have links with many former Ukrainian politicians,” and the statement included the names of a number of those.
“Some of these are in contact with Russian intelligence officers who are currently involved in planning an attack on Ukraine,” the statement said.
Commenting on this statement, US National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said her country is deeply concerned about the accusations announced by Britain.
But Moscow rejected these accusations, and called on London to stop spreading “nonsense”, according to Agence France-Presse.
Separately, the German navy chief, Kai Achim Schoenbach, resigned on Saturday after saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin “deserves respect” and that Kiev will never recover Crimea, which has been annexed by Moscow.
The German Navy commander apologized for these statements, which were widely published in the German media, describing them as “reckless”, while a spokesman for the German Defense Ministry said that the statements did not reflect his country’s position.