Putin sends 100,000 troops to Ukraine border

Putin sends 100,000 troops to Ukraine border: Fears of invasion mount as Red Army continues to assemble despite warnings from US – as Liz Truss tells Kremlin to end ‘shameful’ Belarus crisis

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy condemned Russian troop build-up
  • ‘I hope the whole world can now clearly see who really wants peace,’ he said
  • It comes amid rising tensions in Europe around the Belarus migrant crisis
  • Foreign Secretary Liz Truss urged Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to intervene in the ‘shameful manufactured crisis’ between Belarus and Poland

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said there are nearly 100,000 Russian soldiers near Ukraine’s border, sparking fears that Russia could be preparing to try to seize parts of Ukraine. 

Zelenskiy said Western countries had shared information about active Russian troop movements with Kyiv, with the Ukrainian defence ministry placing the number of Russian troops moving near Ukraine at around 90,000 earlier this month despite warnings from the US. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (pictured) has said there are nearly 100,000 Russian soldiers near Ukraine’s border

‘I hope the whole world can now clearly see who really wants peace and who is concentrating nearly 100,000 soldiers at our border,’ Zelenskiy said earlier this week.

It comes amid rising tensions in Europe as Foreign Secretary Liz Truss urged Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to intervene in the ‘shameful manufactured migrant crisis’ unfolding at the border between Belarus and Poland.

Liz Truss today declared that Russia has a ‘clear responsibility’ to end the escalating migrant stand-off, adding the UK ‘will not look away’ as a large number of migrants gather on the Belarusian side of the border, with Polish authorities reporting daily new attempts by the migrants to breach the divide.

The Belarusian defence ministry has accused Poland of an ‘unprecedented’ military build-up on the border, saying migration control did not warrant the concentration of 15,000 troops backed by tanks, air defence assets and other weapons.

The European Union has accused Belarus’ authoritarian president, Alexander Lukashenko, of encouraging illegal border crossings as a ‘hybrid attack’ to retaliate against the bloc’s sanctions on his government for its crackdown on domestic protests after his disputed 2020 re-election.

Belarus denies the allegations but says it will no longer stop refugees and migrants from trying to enter the EU.

This handout satellite image released by Maxar Technologies shows a view of armoured units and support equipment amid the presence of a large ground forces deployment on the northern edge of the town of Yelnya, Smolensk Oblast, Russia. The Pentagon is monitoring the Ukraine region closely amid reports of a new build-up of Russian troops on the country’s border


Foreign Secretary Liz Truss (R)  has urged Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (L) to intervene in the ‘shameful manufactured migrant crisis’ unfolding at the border between Belarus and Poland

Migrants gather at the Belarus-Poland border near Grodno, Belarus. A large number of migrants are in a makeshift camp on the Belarusian side of the border, with Polish authorities reporting daily attempts by the migrants to breach the divide.

The Russian troop movements near the Ukrainian border have spurred fears of a possible attack after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 – a move which was widely condemned as illegal by world leaders.

Moscow has dismissed such suggestions as inflammatory and complained about increasing activity in the region by the NATO transatlantic alliance, but satellite images released by US company Maxar Technologies have revealed thousands of armoured Russian units and troops massing in towns near the Belarusian and Ukrainian borders.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he is ‘concerned’ by the ‘unusual Russian activity’, and declared ‘our commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty, to its independence, to its territorial integrity is ironclad, and the international community will see through any Russian effort to resort to its previous tactics.’

British Army General Nick Carter said this morning in a SkyNews interview that ‘Russia doesn’t want to bring on a hot war, but they would apply all of the instruments of national power to achieve their objectives.’ 

Meanwhile, the Polish Border Force has reported that Belarusian soldiers engineered two mass migrant incursions into Poland last night near the towns of Dubicze Cerkiewne and Kolonia Klulowicze, away from the main focus Poland’s defences.

The Border Force detained some 77 people and deported them back to Belarus but an estimated 150 others evaded capture and are now seeking sanctuary in the EU state.

A Border Force spokesman told MailOnline: ‘Last night there were two attempts to cross the border from Belarus by force, at Dubicze Cerkiewne and Kolonia Klukowicze.

‘Yesterday we recorded 223 attempts to illegally cross the border from Belarus.

‘Deportation from the Republic of Poland orders were issued against 77 people.’

The spokesman could not explain what had happened to the 146 others who had crossed into Poland illegally. 

Satellite images released by US company Maxar Technologies earlier this month have revealed thousands of armoured Russian units and troops massing in towns near the Belarusian and Ukrainian borders

British Army General Nick Carter said this morning in a SkyNews interview that ‘Russia doesn’t want to bring on a hot war, but they would apply all of the instruments of national power to achieve their objectives.’

Tensions at the border escalated further this week after Russian paratroopers deployed on the Belarusian side of the border, triggering Poland to move a 15,000 strong battalion (pictured) to reinforce the integrity of their checkpoints

Ms Truss called on the Kremlin to intervene in the crisis, writing in The Sunday Telegraph: ‘Russia has a clear responsibility here. It must press the Belarusian authorities to end the crisis and enter into dialogue.’

Russia and Belarus have a union agreement envisaging close political and military ties.

Ms Truss added the stand-off ‘marks the latest step by the Lukashenko regime to undermine regional security.

‘He is using desperate migrants as pawns in his bid to create instability and cling on to power, regardless of the human cost,’ she wrote.

‘The United Kingdom will not look away. We will stand with our allies in the region, who are on the frontier of freedom.’

Her comments come after a small team of British armed forces personnel was deployed to Poland amid growing tension at the border.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said on Thursday a ‘small team’ was deployed to the area to provide ‘engineering support’.

For most of his 27 years as the authoritarian president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko has disdained democratic norms, making his country a pariah in the West and earning him the title of ‘Europe’s last dictator’.

Footage released by the Polish Defence Ministry on November 13, 2021 is believed to show Belarusian forces deploying near the Kuznica border crossing

Tensions at the border escalated further this week after Russian paratroopers deployed on the Belarusian side of the border, triggering Poland to move a 15,000 strong battalion to reinforce the integrity of their checkpoints. 

Lukashenko meanwhile has continued to stoke the fire, calling on ally Russia to reposition its nuclear-capable missiles to threaten the EU bloc.

‘I’ve been pestering your president: I really need those 500km-range missile systems,’ Lukashenko told a Russian journalist yesterday. 

Poland has also accused Belarusian security services of giving tear gas and strobe lights to migrants and encouraging them to push through barricades.

The crisis at the Polish-Belarusian border is seen by many as a tactic of Lukashenko to flood the EU with migrants in retaliation against their condemnation of his disputed presidency.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, is seen by many to be aiding ally and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, right, in manufacturing the migrant crisis which has forced Poland, Latvia and Lithuania to declare a state of emergency in their border zones to halt illegal crossings

His government forcefully diverted an airliner flying between Greece and Lithuania that was carrying a political opponent earlier this year, a move which drew further sanctions from the EU. 

Belarus responded by easing its border controls for migrants from the Middle East and Africa, allowing them to head for the EU frontier and forcing Poland, Latvia and Lithuania to declare a state of emergency in their border zones to halt illegal crossings.

Lukashenko has also raised the stakes by threatening to cut off natural gas shipments from Russia that transit Belarus – a potentially severe blow to Europe as winter settles in.

The moves are a dramatic escalation for Lukashenko, who became president in 1994 when Belarus was an obscure country that had existed less than three years.

His disdain for democratic norms and the country´s dismal human rights record has made Belarus a pariah in the West, earning him the title of ‘Europe´s last dictator.’

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