Russia denies it intends to invade Ukraine but has massed well over 100,000 troops near its border and has sent troops to exercises in neighboring Belarus. US officials say Russia’s buildup of firepower has reached the point where it could invade on short notice.
The US picked up intelligence that Russia is looking at Wednesday as a target date, according to a US official familiar with the findings. The official, who was not authorized to speak publicly and did so only on condition of anonymity, would not say how definitive the intelligence was.
“I believe that today in the information space, there is a lot of information,” Zelenskyy said Saturday. “We understand all the risks, we understand that there are risks. If you, or anyone else, has additional information regarding a 100% Russian invasion starting on the 16th, please forward that information to us.”
Reflecting the West’s concerns, Dutch airline KLM has canceled flights to Ukraine until further notice, the company said Saturday.
Dutch sensitivity to potential danger in Ukrainian airspace is high following the 2014 shooting down of a Malaysian jetliner flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur as it flew over a part of eastern Ukraine held by Russia-backed rebels. All 298 people died aboard, including 198 Dutch citizens.
The Ukrainian charter airline SkyUp said Sunday its flight from Madeira, Portugal, to Kyiv was diverted to the Moldovan capital of Chisinau after the plane’s Irish lessor said it was banning flights in Ukrainian airspace.
Ukrainian presidential spokesman Serhii Nykyforov told The Associated Press that Ukraine has not closed its airspace. A statement from the Infrastructure Ministry said: “Some carriers are experiencing difficulties associated with fluctuations in the insurance markets.”
The Putin-Biden conversation, following a call between Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron earlier in the day, came at a critical moment for what has become the biggest security crisis between Russia and the West since the Cold War. US officials believe they have mere days to prevent an invasion and enormous bloodshed in Ukraine.