During a 40-minute phone call between Boris Johnson and Joe Biden, the two leaders agreed there is a “crucial window” for diplomacy and for Russia to step back from its threats towards Ukraine
Image: Getty Images)
Last-ditch diplomatic bids to avoid a war in the region could have just hours to succeed as Boris Johnson and Joe Biden issued a final warning to Vladimir Putin to pull back from the brink.
But tens of thousands of Russian forces are poised at “multiple points” on Ukraine’s frontiers and there are fears they could strike targets, including the capital Kyiv, at any moment.
During a 40-minute transatlantic call, Mr Johnson and Mr Biden “agreed there remained a crucial window for diplomacy and for Russia to step back from its threats towards Ukraine”, Downing Street revealed.
A spokeswoman added: “The leaders emphasized that any further incursion into Ukraine would result in a protracted crisis for Russia, with far reaching damage for both Russia and the world.
“They agreed that western allies must remain united in the face of threats, including imposing a significant package of sanctions should Russian aggression escalate.”
Speaking on a visit to Scotland, the PM warned the “evidence is pretty clear” Moscow is planning an invasion.
He added: “This is a very, very dangerous, difficult situation, we are on the edge of a precious but there is still time for President Putin to step back.”
But Defense Minister James Heappey sparked fears the Russian leader may snub the pleas when he warned Brits to quit Ukraine immediately.
He said: “Minutes after Putin gives the order, missiles and bombs could be landing on Ukrainian cities, and that means British citizens should leave now whilst they have the opportunities to do so.
“This isn’t a warning about something that could happen in three months’ time, this isn’t a warning that will be followed by further ones as imminence has been reached.”
Mr Johnson is due to chair a crunch Cobra meeting on the crisis today. Downing Street signaled MPs could be hauled back from their week off if Russia invades.
Labor leader Keir Starmer said: “I think it’s very important that Parliament is recalled.” Calling for greater sanctions on Moscow, he added: “I’d like that threat to be real because let’s see this for what it is, Russian aggression.” It comes as 60% of Russia’s available army is in place for an invasion, with 100 Battalion Tactical Groups in striking distance.
One document seen by the Mirror reveals: “We would expect multiple sequenced axes not a single strike.
“Potential sudden thrust against Kyiv, using precision strikes.”
Zuma Press / eyevine)
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Moscow yesterday continued to move military hardware towards Ukraine in what is thought to be the biggest Russian military build-up since World War Two.
Troops conducted war games in Belarus and tanks could be seen carrying out drills in the Leningrad region of their own country.
As tensions grew, Russian TV whipped up hysteria. One channel showed a pro-Moscow fighter in Donbas claiming Ukrainian nationalists will “kill and butcher you all, and hang your children on wires”.
Global markets were thrown into turmoil as international tension mounted over the crisis.
More than £54billion was wiped from the value of the London stock exchange’s top 350 companies after markets opened yesterday.
The FTSE100 was trading down more than 2% – plunging to its lowest point in two weeks.
The biggest stock indexes in Germany and France fell by 3.5%.
Financial analyst Danni Hewson, of investment platform AJ Bell, said: “The prospect of war is rarely good for stock markets.”