Ukraine crisis: Nato fears invasion as Russian troops ‘mass on Ukraine’s borders’

Polish PM says the threat of 'direct intervention' is 'greater than it was a few days ago'

brussels

Russia has amassed about 20,000 combat-ready troops on Ukraine’s eastern border and could use the pretext of a humanitarian or peace-keeping mission to invade, Nato has warned.

Stating that the conflict in Ukraine was fuelled by Russia, Nato said the troop build-up had further escalated “a dangerous situation”.

“We are not going to guess what is on Russia’s mind, but we can see what Russia is doing on the ground – and that is of great concern. Russia has amassed around 20,000 combat-ready troops on Ukraine’s eastern border,” said Oana Lungescu, a Nato spokeswoman.

Nato was concerned that Moscow could use “the pretext of a humanitarian or peace-keeping mission as an excuse to send troops into eastern Ukraine”, she added. Moscow denies Western accusations that it has armed and supported rebels fighting Ukrainian forces in the east. It announced new military exercises to take place all this week, involving bombers and warplanes, in a show of strength near the border with Ukraine.

The Polish Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, said the threat of a “direct intervention” by Russia in Ukraine was “definitely greater than it was a few days ago, or two weeks ago”.

Donald Tusk, right, Poland's Prime Minister (EPA) Donald Tusk, right, Poland's Prime Minister (EPA)
Previously, Russia has used military exercises as cover for intervention, analysts say.

The EU and US agreed tough new sanctions last week against Russia over its actions in Ukraine, marking a new phase in the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the Cold War.

Today, President Vladimir Putin ordered government agencies to restrict imports of food and agricultural products from all countries that had imposed sanctions. Imports would be “banned or limited” for a year, he said in a decree.

 

The RIA Novosti news agency quoted Alexei Alexeenko, of the sanitary oversight agency, as saying: “From the US, all products produced there and brought to Russia will be prohibited.” A full list would be issued, but he thought all fruits and vegetables from EU countries would be banned.

Reuters; AP

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