Russian-Ukrainian crisis could escalate into war in days as British commanders are on “high alert”

The Russian-Ukrainian crisis could explode into all-out war days after Moscow amassed nearly 100,000 troops at the flashpoint border, they feared last night.

Senior Ukrainian military sources fear that Moscow’s war planners may have taken Kiev on the wrong foot by being much more combat-ready for a major land and sea attack than previously thought.

Until recently, senior Ukraine commanders calculated that if Putin ordered an attack deep into eastern Ukraine and elsewhere, it was highly likely to occur in mid-May.

But today, Putin’s navy has stepped up pressure on battled Kiev by announcing the deployment of a war fleet to Ukraine that will arrive in a few days.

Yesterday evening, sources told the Daily Mirror UK that senior commanders and officials in Whitehall were on “high alert” to the crisis and were monitoring the situation “with growing concern”.

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Chris Hughes interviews the Commander of the Pathfinders


Daily Mirror / Andy Stenning)

One of them said: “The aggressive movements of Russian troops towards the border have caused great concern within the Defense Ministry.

“The situation is constantly monitored. I would certainly describe this as a growing crisis. “

More than ten heavily armed Russian warships are now heading to the Caspian Sea from the Black Sea, armed with artillery and other weapons to support Putin’s ground forces.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said it was moving more than ten naval ships, including landing craft and artillery warships to the Black Sea to participate in exercises.

This map shows the latest movements of Russia

But Western countries and Ukraine have expressed concern over the formation of a five-strong alliance or “QUINT” of allies from the UK, US, Canada, Lithuania and Poland supporting Ukraine.

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace was among the Quint who issued a statement warning Russia: “Quint’s defense ministers are united in our unwavering support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. Ukraine in the face of the intensification of Russian military activities.

“We will work closely with Ukraine to monitor the situation and continue to call on Russia to defuse itself.”

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement: “As part of the winter training control, more than 10 amphibious and artillery boats and ships from the Southern Military District are carrying out inter-fleet movement from the Caspian Sea to the black Sea.

Just months ago, the Daily Mirror saw British paratroopers practice their biggest drop in decades alongside Ukrainian allies in a show of force against Russia


Andy Stenning / Daily Mirror)

The Russian Black Sea Fleet is based in Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed to Ukraine in 2014.

It is feared that within a few days more than 95,000 assault soldiers, supported by tanks, armored vehicles, artillery and even batteries of thermobaric rockets, will be ready to invade.

More trucks have arrived at the border in recent days, many carrying rocket launching batteries but alarmingly without license plates, indicating that Moscow wants to keep their numbers as secret as possible.

The whole region has been buzzed by surveillance drones from Moscow, indicating that Moscow is trying to find weak spots.

Months ago, the Mirror saw paratroopers from the 16th Air Assault Brigade fall in a field near Mykoliav, Ukraine, a short drive from the border with Russia


Andy Stenning / Daily Mirror)

Russian troops were also fitted with sophisticated engineering equipment for bridges crossing the river, further fueling the alarm that they could be about to invade at several points.

Spetsnaz special forces and a large number of elite paratroopers are among the infantry units now massing at the Ukrainian border after being dispatched from all over Russia.

They also have large “psychic warfare” trucks in their armory that can detonate sounds of battle on the front line to confuse the enemy and even create devastating diversions.

Tens of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers – including reservists – have been called to the border and American advisers are “in the country”, sources say.

After landing, the paratroopers moved on the ground to their meeting points


Andy Stenning / Daily Mirror)

It comes just months after the Daily Mirror saw British paratroopers practice their biggest drop in decades alongside Ukrainian allies in a show of force against Russia.

And US intelligence assessments classify the threat of a major outbreak between Russia and Ukraine as a “potential imminent crisis,” as their European operations center EUCOM has declared.

War has raged along the 1,500 mile eastern border between Ukraine and Russia since 2014 after the Euromaidan riots in Kiev and the nighttime and lightning Russian invasion of neighboring Crimea.

During brutal fighting, which often reverted to a stalemate in trench warfare, it is estimated that around 14,000 people were killed.

Pathfinder member exits back of Hercules C130 plane to parachute into Ukraine


Cpl Danny Houghton RLC)

The brutal frontline standoff was compounded for Ukraine in the east by pro-Russian rebels, aided by military intelligence spies from the Moscow GRU.

Bruce Jones, an expert on Janes Russia, told the Daily Mirror: “It is difficult to be too alarmist about this situation.

“Russia gives ample proof that it is doing everything it can to carry out the widest possible range of hostilities against Ukraine.

“Such a conflict would present a serious challenge to the military capacity and resolve of the United States, the EU and NATO, which inevitably includes the United Kingdom.”

Paratroopers from the 16th Air Assault Brigade land on the ground


Andy Stenning / Daily Mirror)

The former commander of the British forces in Afghanistan, Colonel Richard Kemp, said: “We have to take this situation very seriously.

“Of course, that could be a deception, but we have to assume that Russia intends to invade Ukraine.

“However, my take is that it would be in a limited way to avoid a larger conflict with America.”

“Putin could get away with it like he already did”

– Analysis, by Chris Hughes, Editor-in-Chief of the Mirror Defense

Military bluffs and espionage have worked well for Putin in the past


SPUTNIK / AFP via Getty Images)

Just days ago, most defense officials and experts reported that the Russian troop movements were a “bluff” to test US President Joe Biden and exploit a divided Europe.

They think Putin thinks he needs to create a nationalist stir to regain dwindling domestic support.

Divisions over Brexit, Covid-19 and terrorist threats mean that Russia is the right time to step into Europe’s gates.

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But Whitehall’s usual soothing voices take him very seriously, describing the Russian forces as appearing to be on a war footing.

Military bluffs and espionage worked well for Putin.

He profited enormously from the “actions below the threshold”, just short of the justification for the war, but the level of military equipment and personnel sent to the Ukrainian border is the highest since the start of hostilities in 2014.

This momentum is very similar to how Russian forces might launch a major offensive against Ukraine – a declared ally of the UK.

British politicians and defense chiefs have said we support Ukraine on this issue, but little was done when Putin annexed Crimea in 2014. The “crippling” sanctions did not stop the special forces Russians and the fear of poisoning people, bombing innocent people in Syria or continually breaking the rules.

The question now is not “Will Putin order a full-scale invasion?” But “why wouldn’t he do it?” “

If he is limited in his intention, there is a possibility that he will do so and get away with it, simply stopping at the line beyond which the United States would go to war. He already did.

Christi C. Elwood