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Biden warns Putin of ‘swift and severe costs’ as Russia plans to ‘invade Ukraine on WEDNESDAY’ and Brits told leave now

JOE Biden warned Vladimir Putin of “swift and severe costs” tonight after claims Russia is planning to invade Ukraine within days.

But bloody conflict still looms after a crunch phone call between the two presidents ended in deadlock with 130,000 troops on the border.

Fears are mounting a Russian invasion could happen as early as Wednesday

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Fears are mounting a Russian invasion could happen as early as Wednesday
Russian soldiers taking part in war games near the Ukraine border

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Russian soldiers taking part in war games near the Ukraine borderCredit: Getty
Kremlin forces firing missiles ahead of a possible invasion

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Kremlin forces firing missiles ahead of a possible invasionCredit: Getty

The leaders talked for one hour and two minutes – but made no real progress amid intelligence reports that Putin will trigger a bomb blitz and ground invasion on Wednesday.

Afterwards the White House said: “President Biden was clear that, if Russia undertakes a further invasion of Ukraine, the United States together with our allies and partners will respond decisively and impose swift and severe costs on Russia.

“President Biden reiterated that a further Russian invasion of Ukraine would produce widespread human suffering and diminish Russia’s standing.”

Leaving the door open to further talks, the US leader said he was prepared to engage in diplomacy while being “equally prepared for other scenarios”.

The Kremlin said it would pause to review US and Nato responses to its proposals for security guarantees before announcing its next actions.

Putin has made the impossible demand that Ukraine should never be allowed to join western alliance Nato.

The frosty talks are not understood to have pulled the two sides from the deep freeze over the Ukraine crisis.

US President Joe Biden warned his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that invading Ukraine would cause “widespread human suffering”, as Britons urged to flee the region began arriving back in the UK.

The White House account of the crisis call on Saturday said Biden warned an attack would “diminish Russia’s standing” as the West pinned hopes on diplomacy to avert war.

They spoke after French President Emmanuel Macron also shared a call with Putin, with fears of an imminent attack heightening.

UK nationals in Ukraine are being urged by the Foreign Office to “leave now while commercial means are still available”.

‘RESPOND DECISIVELY’

Armed Forces minister James Heappey warned Russia is in a position to be able to attack “very, very quickly”, with an estimated 130,000 troops on Ukraine’s border.

But unlike when the Taliban seized Kabul, Mr Heappey stressed that the RAF would not be carrying out evacuations in the event of war in Ukraine.

It was understood that Boris Johnson, who spoke to the Russian president earlier this month, does not have any calls with Moscow scheduled.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she discussed her “acute concerns” that Russia “may launch further military aggression against Ukraine in coming days” during a call on Saturday with US secretary of state Antony Blinken.

“We agree Russia will face massive consequences for any invasion, including severe sanctions,” she said.

After UK nationals in Ukraine, thought to number in the low thousands, were ordered to leave on Friday night, passengers arrived on a flight to Gatwick Airport from Kyiv on Saturday afternoon.

Among them was 21-year-old Haider Ali from Birmingham, who said the warning had “caused quite a panic” with his fellow students at the Dnipro Medical Institute.

The Foreign Office’s order to leave was issued as intelligence and advice from experts on the ground suggested an increased threat level, with an invasion at some point deemed highly likely, the PA news agency understood.

Mr Heappey told BBC Breakfast: “We are now confident that the artillery systems, the missile systems and the combat air are all in place that would allow Russia to launch – at no notice – an attack on Ukraine.

“And on that basis I think it is our responsibility to share with UK citizens our view that they should leave the country immediately while commercial means are still available.

“There will be a big difference between what they may have seen on their TV screens in Afghanistan over the summer and what may happen over the next week or so and that is that the Royal Air Force will not be in a position to go in and to fly people out so they need to leave now by commercial means or drive out of Ukraine into a neighbouring country.”

British ambassador to Ukraine Melinda Simmons was remaining with a “core team” in Kyiv, but some embassy staff and their families were being withdrawn.

The Foreign Office’s order to flee was issued as intelligence and advice from experts on the ground suggested an increased threat level, with an invasion at some point deemed highly likely, PA understands.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said an invasion could come “at any time”, while US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said an attack before the end of the Winter Olympics on February 20 is a “credible prospect”.

INVASION COULD COME ‘AT ANY TIME’

Western leaders have threatened Moscow with a damaging package of sanctions in the event of a further incursion into Ukrainian soil.

Ukraine is not a Nato member and allies in the defence alliance have said they would not join fighting in Ukraine, but have bolstered forces in neighbouring nations and are threatening widespread sanctions.

Though the Kremlin insists it is not planning an invasion, US intelligence suggests Russia could fabricate a “false flag” pretext to attack.

Mr Heappey told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the UK personnel sent to train Ukrainians to use British-supplied anti-tank missiles will be “leaving over the course of the weekend”.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said an invasion could come “at any time”, while US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said an attack before the end of the Winter Olympics on February 20 is a “credible prospect”.

US embassy staff have now been told to evacuate Ukraine as the 6000 Brits living there were also urged to leave immediately amid growing fears a Russian attack would shut down airspace.

New intelligence now suggests Russia will invade Ukraine this Wednesday, February 16, according to German newspaper Der Spiegel.

Information received by the Secret Service, CIA and other intelligence services has even gone as far to outline the routes that individual Russian units will take, along with the roles they will play, it reports.

US Secretary of State Blinken spoke to Sergei Lavrov before the Biden and Putin’s head to head.

“I spoke with Foreign Minister Lavrov today to urge a diplomatic resolution to Russia’s unprovoked military build-up around Ukraine,” Blinken tweeted afterwards.

“I reiterated that further Russian aggression would be met with a resolute, massive, and united Transatlantic response.”

But in response Lavrov accused the United States of seeking to provoke a conflict in Ukraine, during a call with his US counterpart Antony Blinken.

Their talks come after U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Washington believes Putin could strike any day.

It was previously widely believed Russia would not attack before the end of the Winter Olympics on February 20 but the latest intelligence reports have cast doubt on that.

The imminent threat follows weeks of growing tension as Vladimir Putin’s build-up of troops and tanks continue to threaten Ukraine.

Sullivan echoed President Biden’s call for “all American citizens who remain in Ukraine to depart immediately”.

“We want to be crystal clear on this point. Any American in Ukraine should leave as soon as possible and in any event in the next 24 to 48 hours. 

“The risk is now high enough and the threat is now immediate enough that this is what prudence demands.

“If you stay you are assuming risk, with no guarantee that there will be any other opportunity to leave and there is no prospect of a U.S. military evacuation in the event of a Russian invasion.”

Mr Sullivan said an attack would likely begin with aerial bombing and missile strikes, which would shut down transportation by air, rail, and roads.

His fears were echoed by MP Tobias Ellwood, chair of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee, who also said war was “inevitable”.

Biden and Putin are set to hold crunch talks at 4pm UK time while top US General Mark Milley has spoken with his Russian counterpart, General Valery Gerasimo.

Russia has been deploying military troops to the Ukraine border as Nato begins beefing up its own forces in the area.

Pentagon said it would send 3,000 combat troops from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to Poland to join 1,700 troops assembling there.

TROOPS HEAD TO UKRAINE

Last night, Brits were warned to leave Ukraine immediately as the imminent threat of war loomed.

Edinburgh-born healthcare firm boss Stuart McKenzie, 51, organised a 200-strong expat flag procession through Kiev in support of locals last week.

The dad-of-three is now planning to fly or drive his family to safety in Europe  over the next 48 hours – but will return to support Ukraine.

Stuart – who is married to Ukrainian Lena, 49, and has children Victoria, 20, Robert, 14, and Stuart, 12 and has lived in Kiev for 28 years – said: “My priority is to protect my family.

“But I also plan to get my kids to safety then come back to help the Ukrainians in any way I can.

“That may mean organising or working with them but it might also mean picking up a gun – I’m prepared to do that because it’s the Russians who are the aggressors.”

But Ken Stewart, 54, and his Ukrainian wife Tania, 36, were stranded in their home north of Kiev last night because they don’t have a passport for their newborn baby Douglas.

Douglas was born on Monday, weighing 9lbs, by Caesarian section and Tania was still recovering in hospital as embassies ordered citizens to flee.

Ken, who’s also from Edinburgh, said: “We’re are in a difficult situation since we do not yet have Douglas’s birth certificate.

“So I am waiting until they come home and then I think we may leave and head west, where Tania has relatives just to be safe.”

Threats of a nuclear clash have now soared after it was revealed Russia moved its terrifying “atomic cannon” to within striking distance of a major city.

A battery of self-propelled guns capable of firing nuclear shells have been captured on video in the Russian town of Vesela Lopan, Bolgorod – just 10 miles from the Ukrainian border.

And civilians in Ukraine were attending open military training following reports that some 200,000 fully equipped Russian troops were on its borders.

The besieged country has increased exercises amid fears an invasion may come “at any time”.

INVASION FEARS

Moscow has insisted its 140,000 troops on Ukraine’s southern and eastern borders plus tens of thousands more to the north in Belarus have no plans to invade.

But military satellites yesterday detected more massive military movements towards the Ukrainian frontier suggesting a push was imminent.

More than 30 tactical exercises involving the Russian Navy’s Caspian flotilla backed by helicopters and troops will ramp up tension near Ukraine’s southern border from today (Sun)

The exercises will be held around-the-clock day and night alongside menacing manoeuvres in the Black and Azov Seas until February 19.

Six Russian landing ships which can carry 2,000 troops and 40 tanks onto beaches are also in position within striking distance of Ukraine’s southern coast.

Earlier this week, Boris Johnson said the continent stands at the “most dangerous point” since World War Two after flying to Poland to meet with leaders.

The Prime Minister stressed the chilling warning on a call with allies last night, including the US, Italy, France and Germany.

And the European Council, the European Commission and NATO chiefs were also listening in following the change of advice for Brits living in Ukraine.

In Poland, Mr Johnson, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Nato chiefs and the Polish PM, urged Putin to avoid a “pointless, tragic” conflict.

This came as Vladimir Putin was warned that nuclear war could erupt if Ukraine joins NATO and accused the West of “complete disregard for our concerns” as peace talks failed.

A thousand British troops are now on standby for an invasion on top of the 350 Royal Marines on their way to Poland for joint Arctic warfare drills.

The UK has also offered to send warships and RAF jets, on top of 900 troops in Estonia as part of a Nato deterrence mission.

But armed forces minister James Heappey said British troops helping with training in Ukraine forces to use anti-tank missiles will be leaving the country this weekend.

“All of them will be withdrawn. There will be no British troops in Ukraine if there is to be a conflict there,” he told the BBC.

The US has also announced About 150 troops from the Florida National Guard who have been in Ukraine to help train Ukrainian forces are leaving the country.

Russia has been warned it faces financial consequences if it does invade Ukraine.

Foreign Office minister James Cleverly confirmed laws for crippling sanctions had been signed in readiness.

US military equipment and soldiers inside in a temporary base in Poland

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US military equipment and soldiers inside in a temporary base in PolandCredit: Getty
Satellite images show Russian forces massed near the border with Ukraine

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Satellite images show Russian forces massed near the border with UkraineCredit: EPA
The Russian and Belarusian armed forces take part in a military drill in Belarus

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The Russian and Belarusian armed forces take part in a military drill in BelarusCredit: Getty
Ukrainian tanks are preparing to resist any Russian invasion

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Ukrainian tanks are preparing to resist any Russian invasionCredit: AFP
A British family arriving at Gatwick airport after returning from the Ukraine

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A British family arriving at Gatwick airport after returning from the UkraineCredit: PA

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/17626426/russia-ukraine-us-promises-resolute-massive-response-2/ Biden warns Putin of ‘swift and severe costs’ as Russia plans to ‘invade Ukraine on WEDNESDAY’ and Brits told leave now

Bobby Allyn

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