Latvian prime minister says Russian forces are moving into eastern Ukraine while US warns that a large-scale invasion may be imminent

“Russia is at the height of preparation now to complete an all-out invasion of Ukraine,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said at a media conference in Australia on Tuesday evening ET.

It is “likely to happen within the next 24 hours,” Morrison, whose country is a member of the so-called Five Eyes coalition that shares intelligence, said.

US intelligence assessments and public warnings to foreign leaders – as well as US President Joe Biden’s statements on Tuesday that the Russian invasion has begun – come as Ukraine’s president has called for a nationwide state of emergency starting at midnight. Wednesday in Ukraine.

“According to the information I have, Putin is moving additional troops and tanks to the occupied territories of Donbass,” Latvian Prime Minister Arturs Krishanis Kariche told CNN correspondent Jim Sioto. “By what definition this is the crossing of a sovereign territory into a neighboring country.”

Pressed specifically on whether he was referring to additional Russian forces entering since Moscow recognized the breakaway regions earlier this week, Karish replied: “Yes, according to the information I have, that’s exactly what we’re seeing.”

Two other sources familiar with US intelligence confirmed to CNN that additional Russian troops have in fact crossed the border into the Donbass region since Putin recognized the two regions and ordered the deployment of “peacekeepers” in Donbass on Tuesday. According to a senior US official familiar with the latest intelligence, Russia has deployed two so-called tactical battalions, which are Russia’s main combat formation, each with an average of about 800 soldiers.

CNN has not independently verified the presence of additional Russian forces in Donbass.

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The new warning from US intelligence was conveyed to Ukraine on Tuesday morning, Kiev local time, according to three sources. A senior Ukrainian official said Ukraine had not verified the intelligence and noted that the United States had issued similar warnings before about attacks that ultimately did not materialize.

The United States assessed that Russia had completed all preparations for an invasion, a senior US defense official familiar with the latest intelligence said. “They are as prepared as possible,” the official said.

NATO allies have received a similar intelligence assessment warning of an imminent attack, according to a NATO military official. The official warned that “nobody knows for sure” what Russian President Vladimir Putin will do.

NEWSWEEK first mentioned On warning the United States.

The United States has warned that the main northeastern city of Kharkiv is of particular concern, according to a senior Ukrainian official and a Western official familiar with the intelligence. On Tuesday, Ukraine’s foreign minister said there were no plans to evacuate the city.

“We have no such plans,” he told a news conference in Washington alongside Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.

The Pentagon says that the Russian forces are in ready positions

A senior defense official told reporters at the Pentagon on Wednesday that 80% of Russian forces massed on the Ukrainian border are “in what we consider to be forward and ready-to-go positions.” A senior defense official told reporters during an off-camera briefing at the Pentagon on Wednesday.

The official said that Russian military forces “scattered around Ukraine and Belarus are as prepared as possible” for the invasion.

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The official added that Russian military capabilities along the Ukrainian border are “close to 100% of all forces” that the Pentagon had expected Putin to move into the region. The official said Putin has a “full range of capabilities” that have already moved to the Ukrainian border, including “a significant offensive missile capability”, “more than two dozen warships in the Black Sea” and “armor, artillery and certainly infantry.”

Videos on social media that have been geolocated and analyzed by CNN over the past several days show the continued accumulation of armor and support vehicles less than 30 kilometers across the border in Russia.

US officials said they expected a ground invasion and air strikes if Russia launched an attack.

“Russian missiles and bombs will fall across Ukraine. Communications will be disrupted. And cyber-attacks will shut down key Ukrainian institutions,” Blinken told the UN Security Council last week, describing how the United States believes a Russian attack on Ukraine will occur. “After that, Russian tanks and soldiers will advance on key targets that have already been identified and drawn up in detailed plans.”

The United States and Europe say more sanctions are ready if Putin further escalates

President Joe Biden on Tuesday called the events now unfolding in Ukraine “the beginning of a Russian invasion,” but senior administration officials have since refused to confirm whether additional Russian forces have entered Donbass — where unmarked Russian forces have since supported separatist fighters. . 2014.

US and European allies invoked sanctions against Moscow on Tuesday in response to Putin’s moves, and so has the Biden administration. It is expected to be announced on Wednesday They will allow sanctions to move forward on the company responsible for the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany.

Karic told CNN that the first round of sanctions from the US and Europe was just the beginning of a Western response to Moscow if Putin further escalated his escalation in Ukraine.

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“I think what we are seeing now is the first wave of sanctions. So Putin is moving military units into Ukraine, and the democratic world is responding immediately, within a day, across all time zones, with very deep coordinated sanctions,” he said. “If there are more moves, there will be more penalties, and it will only be deeper and deeper.”

On Wednesday, a member of Ukraine’s parliamentary press team confirmed to CNN that the Verkhovna Rada said it was “dealing with a cyber attack” on its website.

Internet monitor NetBlocks tweeted that the websites of Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Interior, Security Service and Cabinet offices were “affected by the network outage”.

On Wednesday, Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council announced that a state of emergency will be imposed throughout the country under government control. The measure is expected to be approved by the Verkhovna Rada within 48 hours and will last for 30 days, with a possible extension for an additional 30 days.

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