“According to the information I have, Putin is moving additional troops and tanks to the occupied territories of Donbass,” Latvian Prime Minister Arturs Krishanis Kariche told CNN correspondent Jim Sioto on Wednesday. “By what definition this is the crossing of a sovereign territory into a neighboring country.”
Pressed specifically on whether he was referring to additional Russian forces entering since Moscow recognized the breakaway regions earlier this week, Karish replied: “Yes, according to the information I have, that’s exactly what we’re seeing.”
Two other sources familiar with US intelligence confirmed to CNN that additional Russian forces had already crossed the border into the Donbass region since Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized the two regions and ordered the deployment of “peacekeepers” in Donbass on Tuesday. According to a senior US official familiar with the latest intelligence, Russia has deployed one to two tactical groups of the battalion, Russia’s main combat formation, each with an average of about 800 soldiers.
CNN has not independently verified the presence of additional Russian forces in Donbass.
The moves come as the United States issued a new warning to the Ukrainian government that recent intelligence indicates a large-scale Russian invasion is imminent, according to Ukrainian, American and Western officials familiar with the matter.
The new warning was conveyed Tuesday morning Kiev local time, according to three sources. A senior Ukrainian official said Ukraine had not verified the intelligence and noted that the United States had issued similar warnings before about attacks that ultimately did not materialize.
NATO allies have received a similar intelligence assessment warning of an imminent attack, according to a NATO military official. The official cautioned that “no one knows for sure” what Putin will do.
News of the warning comes as Ukraine’s president has called for a nationwide state of emergency from midnight in Ukraine.
The United States has warned that the main northeastern city of Kharkiv is of particular concern, according to a senior Ukrainian official and a Western official familiar with the intelligence. On Tuesday, Ukraine’s foreign minister said there were no plans to evacuate the city.
“We have no such plans,” he told a news conference in Washington alongside Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.
CNN’s geo-located and analyzed social media videos over the past several days show the continued accumulation of armor and support vehicles less than 30 kilometers across the border in Russia.
US officials said they expected a ground invasion and air strikes if Russia launched an attack.
“Russian missiles and bombs will fall across Ukraine. Communications will be disrupted. And cyber-attacks will shut down key Ukrainian institutions,” Blinken told the UN Security Council last week, describing how the United States believes a Russian attack on Ukraine will occur. “After that, Russian tanks and soldiers will advance on key targets that have already been identified and drawn up in detailed plans.”
President Joe Biden on Tuesday called the events now unfolding in Ukraine “the beginning of a Russian invasion,” but senior administration officials have since refused to confirm whether additional Russian forces have entered Donbass — where unmarked Russian forces have since supported separatist fighters. . 2014.
Karic told CNN that the first round of sanctions from the United States and Europe was just the beginning of a Western response to Moscow if Putin further escalated his escalation in Ukraine.
“I think what we are seeing now is the first wave of sanctions. So Putin is moving military units into Ukraine, and the democratic world is responding immediately, within a day, across all time zones, with very deep coordinated sanctions,” he said. “If there are more moves, there will be more penalties, and it will only be deeper and deeper.”
On Wednesday, a member of Ukraine’s parliamentary press team confirmed to CNN that the Verkhovna Rada said it was “dealing with a cyber attack” on its website.
Internet monitor NetBlocks tweeted that the websites of Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Interior, Security Service and Cabinet offices were “affected by network disruptions”.
On Wednesday, Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council announced that a state of emergency will be imposed throughout the country under government control. The measure is expected to be approved by the Verkhovna Rada within 48 hours and will last for 30 days, with a possible extension for an additional 30 days.
CNN’s Vasco Cutovio contributed to this report.
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