Ukraine’s top security official says Russia staging provocations in country’s east to prompt a military response.
Ukraine’s top security official Oleksiy Danilov has accused Russia of staging provocations in conflict-hit eastern Ukraine to try to provoke Ukraine’s military to respond, but added that Kyiv would stick to peaceful ways to defuse the crisis.
Danilov said on Friday Ukraine had no plans to recapture separatist-held territories by force, adding that a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine was unlikely.
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Earlier, Moscow-backed separatist leaders in eastern Ukraine announced they will evacuate civilians to Russia as fears of a major escalation in fighting grow.
The announcement by the heads of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) and Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) came after the rebels and Ukraine’s government traded accusations of shelling and other ceasefire violations in the Donbas region.
Meanwhile, Western powers continued to voice alarm over Moscow’s massing of more than 100,000 troops around Ukraine’s borders.
Here are all the latest updates:
30 mins ago (20:26 GMT)
UK blames Russia for cyberattacks on banks in Ukraine
The United Kingdom has said that Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency was almost certainly involved in cyberattacks on Ukrainian banks this week.
“The decision to publicly attribute this incident underlines the fact that the UK and its allies will not tolerate malicious cyber activity,” the British foreign ministry said.
34 mins ago (20:21 GMT)
US ‘ready’ if Russia tries to ‘weaponise’ energy supplies: US official
The United States is “ready” for fallout if Russia decides to “weaponise” its massive energy reserves in response to Western sanctions, a senior US official has said.
“If Russia decides to weaponise its energy supply, we’re ready,” White House Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics Daleep Singh told reporters.
“We’ve been taking steps … to coordinate with major energy consumers, major energy producers to ensure that we have steady energy supplies and … stable energy markets,” he said.
44 mins ago (20:12 GMT)
US congressman says situation is ‘dire’, warns of major consequences
US Congressman Seth Moulton has warned there would be various consequences if Russia decides to invade Ukraine.
“I think the situation is dire. I think we are standing at the prophases of the largest military action in Europe since WWII – a full-scale Russian invasion of a sovereign country,” Moulton told Al Jazeera from the sidelines of a security conference in Munich.
“If that happens, the consequences for the West, the consequences for the future of NATO, the immediate refugee consequences and the massive loss of life, will be something we haven’t seen in a very long time,” he said, adding that the window for diplomacy “remains open”.
51 mins ago (20:05 GMT)
White House says US, allies converging on final Russia sanctions package
The United States and its allies are “converging” on a final sanctions package if Russia invades Ukraine, White House Deputy National Security Adviser Daleep Singh has said.
1 hour ago (19:51 GMT)
UK moves Ukraine embassy out of Kyiv, urges nationals to leave
The United Kingdom’s foreign ministry has said the country’s embassy in Ukraine was moving away from the capital Kyiv and it told British nationals to leave the country while commercial means of travel were still available.
The embassy office in Kyiv was relocating temporarily and staff were operating from an embassy office in the city of Lviv, the ministry said.
“Any Russian military action in Ukraine would severely affect the British government’s ability to provide consular assistance in Ukraine,” the ministry said. “British nationals should not expect increased consular support or help with evacuating in these circumstances.”
1 hour ago (19:34 GMT)
Biggest concentration of military forces in Europe now since Cold War: Stoltenberg
Europe is seeing the biggest buildup of troops since the Cold War, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has said, warning the size of the Russian force assembling far exceeded that needed for military drills.
“There can be no doubt that we have now the biggest concentration of military forces since the end of the Cold War in Europe,” he told German broadcaster ZDF, warning that Russia now has the capacity to invade without warning.
2 hours ago (18:51 GMT)
Germany to put its troops in NATO’s quick reaction force on higher alert
Germany will put its troops in NATO’s quick reaction force on higher alert, enabling them to deploy more quickly to protect Eastern European allies in case of an escalation of tensions with Russia, the defence ministry in Berlin has said.
The decision, taken in close cooperation with NATO’s highest military commander and allies, is a reaction to Russia’s conduct and meant to reduce the time needed to prepare for deployment in case of an activation of the NATO Response Force (NRF), the ministry said in a statement.
“The increased readiness to deploy enables NATO, in case of a further escalation by Russia, to guarantee appropriate reassurance in particular to our eastern European allies in order to protect allied territory,” the statement said.
2 hours ago (18:41 GMT)
Russia trying to provoke Ukraine’s military to attack, Kyiv says
Ukraine’s top security official Oleksiy Danilov has accused Russia of staging provocations in eastern Ukraine to try to provoke Ukraine’s military to respond, but added that Ukraine would stick to peaceful ways to defuse the crisis.
In a joint briefing, Minister for Integration of the Temporary Occupied Territories Iryna Vereshchuk said Russia was trying to force Ukraine into making concessions.
Danilov said Ukraine had no plans to liberate separatist-held territories by force, adding that a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine was unlikely.