Fears of a widespread war in eastern Ukraine increased yesterday after Russia warned America to stay out of the region: “For their own good.”
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Rabyov’s request came when two US destroyers steamed towards the flash point region.
The USS Donald Cook and the USS Roosevelt will arrive in the Black Sea today – ten Russian warships will arrive in a few days.
Rabyov accused the US of “provoking” Moscow’s “nerves” test.
In an appeal to Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday, US President Joe Biden expressed concern about a huge Russian military build-up of almost 100,000 soldiers in Crimea and on the borders of Ukraine.
And the White House emphasized the US commitment to the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenburg promised the alliance’s “unwavering” support for the government in Kiev.
The war of words has brought the limit to a knife edge, as the mirror can show. Armed forces backed by Russia have dropped illegal “butterfly bombs” in eastern Ukraine.
The banned devices were set up near an area called Zaitseve near Donestk, where Russian separatists are fighting native troops.
Since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, 14,000 people have been killed in brutal fighting between Ukrainian security forces and separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.
Now British RAF chiefs have sent six typhoon jets to Romania to strengthen the Ukrainian armed forces.
A small number of British and US special forces, as well as regular signal troops, are helping Ukraine oversee the build-up of the Russian military.
And an RAF spy plane monitors the movements of Moscow troops for early warnings of an invasion.
Ukraine and its allies are also trying to track down undercover Russian GRU intelligence officials working undercover in eastern Ukraine.
The GRU has supported Russia deep in Ukraine in preparation for another break-in across the controversial border.
British and American assessments have reached the situation as a “crisis point”.
A British military source said last night: “Russia is either playing a huge and extremely expensive bluff to disrupt the region and muscle flex – or it intends to invade on multiple fronts.
“If so, Ukraine will now be very well defended by professional and determined forces.”
The White House said President Biden had suggested that he and Putin “hold a summit meeting in the coming months to discuss the full range of issues facing the United States and Russia”.