- Russia is set to invade Ukraine at 1am tomorrow, US top officials were quoted as saying.
- US dismissed claims that Russia had withdrawn its troops from Ukraine border.
- Invasion is set for February 16 with a massive missile blitz and 200,000 troops, reports said.
Russia is set to invade Ukraine at 1 am tomorrow, reports quoting highly placed sources in the US government suggested. Russian President Vladimir Putin had earlier in the day claimed that Russia had pulled back its troops from the Ukrainian border. US officials dismissed the claims, and said that the invasion is set for February 16 with a massive missile blitz and 200,000 troops.
Jens Stoltenberg, the Nato secretary-general, speaking to reporters in Brussels had also dismissed claims of Russia's withdrawal of troops. "We haven't seen any de-escalation so far" by Russia on the borders with Ukraine, he was quoted as saying by news agency BBC.
Earlier in the day, Moscow said some military forces deployed near Ukraine are returning to their bases after a build-up of Russian forces around Ukrainian borders spurred fears of an invasion. The development had followed Moscow's statement on Monday that it was ready to keep diplomatic channels open with the west on the matter.
The U.S. and its NATO allies have repeatedly warned that Russia will pay a high price for any invasion — but they have sometimes struggled to present a united front.
Russia has repeatedly brushed off Ukrainian and Western concerns about the military buildup, saying it has the right to deploy forces wherever needed on its territory. On Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov accused Ukraine of fueling tensions by beefing up its forces near the territories controlled by Russia-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine.