Russia has amassed 10,000s of troops on the border of Ukraine in an escalating crisis which could lead to war with the former Soviet state. Joe Biden has called the Russian President to urge him to stand down his soldiers and military equipment.
Videos on the ground appear to show heavy armaments being transported towards the Ukraine-Russia border and naval vessels have emerged onto the Don River. It is also thought Putin is sending landing ships from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea for the first time since the end of the Soviet Union. Experts believe the Russian President may have ordered the mobilisation of more than half a million troops to the region involving forces from the Pacific to the Baltic.
Meanwhile the Ukrainian military, which is outnumbered by Russia by a factor of three to one, says they are preparing to repel tank and infantry attacks near the border of Russian-annexed Crimea.
US President Joe Biden called Vladimir Putin on Tuesday to reaffirm America’s support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and proposed a summit between the two Presidents. However the Kremlin said any such meeting would be premature though would keep dialogue open with the US.
Moscow have insisted their troop movements are simply in response to NATO positioning more troops and equipment in the region.
Ukraine is facing a "Wipe Out Blitzkrieg" as a Russian expert claims Putin is mobilizing "Half a Million" troops amid mounting fears of war!
by Imogen Braddick, Will Stewart
Putin has moved tens of thousands of troops and heavy military equipment to the border with Ukraine, prompting a phone call from Joe Biden to tell the Russian leader to stand down.
The latest footage from Russia appears to show heavy armaments on the move in Krasnodar region and naval vessels on the Don River
Tensions are mounting as Putin mobilises tens of thousands of troops to the border with Ukraine
The latest on-the-ground videos appear to show heavy armaments on the move in Krasnodar region and naval vessels on the Don River as the Ukraine crisis becomes increasingly hostile.
Russia is also known to be moving landing ships from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea for the first time since the end of the Soviet era.
New footage shows Russia’s Black Sea fleet on the move - while Ukraine also conducted military exercises off Crimea.
A veteran independent Russian defence analyst has claimed Putin may have ordered the mobilisation of "more than half a million" troops - involving forces from the Pacific to the Baltic.
Asked if Russia was "on the doorstep of war", Pavel Felgenhauer told Ekho Moscow radio: "Practically, we are."
He added: "An unprecedented mobilisation of the Russian armed forces is taking place. This has not happened either since 1973, or since 1962.
"The exact number of people participating is not officially indicated. Apparently more than half a million."
Felgenhauer claimed that the main Russian-speaking cities in Ukraine "will be occupied in the course of a victorious and fleeting blitzkrieg".
Tanks of the Ukrainian Armed Forces are seen during drills on Wednesday
The Ukrainian military said its armed forces rehearsed repelling a tank and infantry attack near the border of Russian-annexed Crimea
Pavel Felgenhauer - a Russian defence analyst - said Putin may have ordered the mobilisation of more than half a million troops
Blitzkrieg is a method of warfare which leads to a quick victory and limits the loss of soldiers and artillery.
The Russia expert told the Novaya Gazeta newspaper: "All this looks as if the Russian General Staff is gathering forces and means for a possible 'deep' strategic operation.
“A powerful tank wedge of the right flank, striking to the southwest through Kharkiv, cuts through weak Ukrainian defences, breaking through places where no one has fought with anyone since 1943.
"Somewhere on the Left Bank, in the lower reaches of the Dnieper River, the oncoming southern wedge from the Crimea joins the northern one.
"Powerful airborne assault forces bring an additional element of chaos to the Ukrainian command and control system.
"The rest of Ukraine will be denied access to the sea.
"As it was recently announced, the end of Ukraine as a state will come."
Felgenhauer - who has worked as a defence expert for the Russian media for three decades - said the movement of Russia troops is taking place during the day so the "West is shown that Russia is now fully mobilised".
One of the two military ships pictured in the Don river near the Bridge of Aksay in Rostov-on-Don, Russia
The expert claimed Russia was 'preparing a deep operation for the total defeat of the Ukrainian Armed Forces'
"Because if we start something with Ukraine, the Americans said that they would support it, then we are ready to go to war with America at any moment," he said.
The Ukrainian military said its armed forces rehearsed repelling a tank and infantry attack near the border of Russian-annexed Crimea on Wednesday.
But Felgenhauer claimed Russia was "preparing a deep operation for the total defeat of the Ukrainian Armed Forces".
"This does not mean that it will necessarily begin," he said. "But the preparation is serious."
Such an attack could take place at some point between now and September, he suggested.
"In order for the West not to interfere and leave it to Ukraine to be devoured, we must show that we are ready for an all-out war," Felgenhauer said.
It comes after Putin snubbed Biden's call for peace talks as fears of war mount over Russia's build-up of troops at the Ukrainian border.
The US president urged Putin to ease mounting tensions with neighbouring Ukraine during a phone call with the Russian leader yesterday.
Video footage appears to show Russian military equipment on the move
Biden spoke of his "unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity".
And he proposed a summit meeting "in the coming months" to "discuss the full range of issues facing the United States and Russia".
But the Kremlin said it was "premature" to talk about a possible meeting.
Although Russia said it would "continue dialogue" with the United States, it declined the offer for a first summit with Biden.
And the Kremlin told Washington it would act decisively if the US took any new "unfriendly steps" such as imposing sanctions, the RIA news agency reports.
The talks took place just hours after Russia warned the US to keep its warships away from Crimea "for their own good" and accused them of turning the region into a "powder keg".
'ACT FIRMLY IN DEFENSE'
During the call on Tuesday, Biden "reaffirmed his goal of building a stable and predictable relationship with Russia, consistent with US interests".
The White House said in a statement: "President Biden also made clear that the United States will act firmly in defense of its national interests in response to Russia's actions, such as cyber intrusions and election interference.
"The president voiced our concerns over the sudden Russian military build-up in occupied Crimea and on Ukraines borders, and called on Russia to de-escalate tensions."
It comes after Washington deployed two ships to the Black Sea and reiterating that the US "stands firmly behind" its European ally, while NATO braced to begin its "air policing mission".
The decision to deploy the two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, the USS Donald Cook and USS Roosevelt, was branded "a provocation" formulated "to test our nerves", by Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. (that decision to send in two US war ships has since been cancelled by the US)