PRO-RUSSIAN rebels have asked for help from President Vladimir Putin to fight the Ukrainian army, as US military officials warn Russia has amassed “near 100%” of the troops needed to invade.
Militia in two breakaway provinces have begged Russia to “help beat back the aggression of the Ukrainian armed forces to avoid victims among the civilian population and a humanitarian catastrophe in the Donbas,” according to insiders.
Militia in pro-Russian breakaway provinces have called for support from Putin[/caption]
The territories of Donetsk and Luhansk both declared their independence[/caption]
Russian tanks have been pictured heading for Ukraine’s border[/caption]
Military convoys were seen travelling towards the Donbas[/caption]
The Kremlin claims the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) have both requested military aid from Moscow, in a dramatic move that may be used by Putin as a justification for a full invasion.
Their request was seen as the final act of Putin’s fake news “playbook”, giving him the pretext to order a 200,000-strong force to unleash hell.
And Kremlin warmongers confected outrage over Putin’s claims of “genocide” in the Donbas enclaves snatched in 2014 – as Ukraine braced for an attack on at least three fronts.
In the east, tension reached new heights along a 250-mile “contact line” snaking through Donbas as booming shelling duels lit up the night sky.
While in the south, a five-mile-long column of tanks and troop trucks was seen rumbling towards the border with Ukraine.
And in the north, another vast force of thousands of troops, military vehicles and rocket artillery batteries back by warplanes and attack helicopters was bearing down on Ukraine’s second city, Kharkiv.
Analysts warned every sign was that Putin had delivered his orders to attack – and that there was “no going back”.
And Ukrainian capital Kyiv was steeling itself for a blitz from Russian bombers and cruise missiles as hopes for peace finally crumbled to dust.
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Signalling Russia’s intent, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed the breakaway republics – recognised by Putin despite global fury on Monday – had requested protection.
He said: “As the aggression by the Ukrainian armed forces continues, civilian and industrial infrastructure, schools, hospitals, kindergartens are being destroyed in the republics.
“Actions by the Kyiv regime show that it is unwilling to end the war in Donbas.
“Kyiv continues to increase its military presence on the contact line, receiving comprehensive support, including military support, from the US and other Western countries.”
He added that Russian troops are operating with the “purpose of preventing victims among peaceful residents and a humanitarian catastrophe”.
Ruthless manipulator Putin accused Ukraine of supporting a “genocide” in the Donbas region last week – in the absence of a shred of evidence.
It comes as US military intel claimed on Wednesday Russia will launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine within the next 48 hours.
US President Joe Biden issued the chilling warning to his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy as he claimed Russian warplanes were already carrying out short reconnaissance missions over his country’s airspace.
As the aggression by the Ukrainian armed forces continues, civilian and industrial infrastructure, schools, hospitals, kindergartens are being destroyed in the republics
Ukraine’s government has already declared a state of emergency after Putin sent tanks as well as 10,000 troops into the breakaway provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk.
“The President of Ukraine has been warned Russia will highly likely begin an invasion within 48 hours based on US intelligence,” a US official told Newsweek.
They went on: “Reporting from aircraft observers indicates Russia violated Ukrainian airspace earlier today, flying possible reconnaissance aircraft for a short period over Ukraine.”
A source close to President Zelenskyy confirmed they had received the warning, but said this was the third of its kind received by Kyiv in the past month.
“It’s possible for sure,” they said. “Putin can’t keep so many troops in the field much longer.”
The Pentagon’s report claims Russia is planning a full-on assault on its neighbour, including airstrikes, cruise missiles, and a ground invasion.
Putin is continuing to ready his forces in and around Ukraine ahead of a feared imminent invasion.
A senior US defence official told reporters on Wednesday the Russian leader has amassed “dang near 100%” of the troops he would need to invade Ukraine, while 80% of them are in “ready position” for such an order.
Satellite images lay clear the extent of the military buildup[/caption]
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said: “Russian troops could attack Ukraine at any time.
“I’m not going to give an additional timeline to it. We have been saying it could happen at any time and they are in an attack position for some time now.”
On Monday, Putin recognised both Luhansk and Donetsk in a move which made invasion far more likely.
He also ordered Russian “peacekeepers” into the rebel-held zones, while warning that Russia’s troops won’t stop in the Donbas, and claimed Ukraine had no right to exist.
In a chilling development on Tuesday, Russia’s parliament the Duma voted to allow Putin to use armed forces abroad.
Joe Biden and Boris Johnson both condemned the “invasion”, slapping further sanctions of Russia’s banks as well as Putin’s billionaire pals.
Russian troops have been stationed in the Donbas region since 2014, while the fog of war has descended on Ukraine in recent weeks, making it difficult to determine whether or not Russia has invaded.
Up to 200,000 Russian soldiers are massed along Ukraine’s border, while on Wednesday, the Pentagon official gave further details on the country’s military capabilities.
He warned Putin has “significant offensive missile capability to offensive ground power,” adding: “He has more than two dozen warships in the Black Sea.
“The majority of them are surface combatants. He has a cruise missile capability. He’s got ballistic missile capability arrayed.
“He’s got armour, artillery, certainly infantries. He’s got special forces.
“It is our assessment that [Putin] is fully prepared to conduct a large-scale invasion and that is a likely option.”
Meanwhile, Russian troops were given orders to switch off mobile phone and cell networks suddenly went dead across Donbas last night as war fears reached new heights.
Pro-Russian separatists asked locals in Donbas not to film troops moving into position as columns of armour rumbled towards Ukrainian lines.
And Ukraine’s threatened cities of Dnipro and Kharkiv both closed their airports for the first time since the crisis unfolded.
Terrifying video from Wednesday shows Russia’s devastating thermobaric rocket launchers heading for Ukraine’s border.
The TOS-1 and TOS-1A, both tank-mounted fuel-air explosives, can incinerate city blocks in minutes and were previously used with deadly force in conflicts in Afghanistan, Chechnya, and Iraq.
One TOS-1 blast can destroy an area of 200 to 300m square, while the impact can “melt” an opposing army.
Their force is so powerful they can suck the air out of the enemy’s lungs causing them to collapse.