By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
KYIV/BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – The emotional Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says the Kremlin has approved the movement of nearly 200,000 forces into his nation for Europe’s most significant military conflict since World War Two.
Zelensky spoke directly to the Russian people in a video address late Wednesday, saying he tried to call Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier in the day but was met with silence.
Speaking in Russian, the Ukrainian leader said close to tears that his nation was moments away from what could “become the start of a big war on the European continent.”
Zelensky noted that Russia and Ukraine share more than 2,000 kilometers (3,200 miles) of the border now lined with nearly 200,000 Russian troops and thousands of armored vehicles.
Among the military options available to Putin is an offensive into areas still under Ukrainian control claimed by the separatists or a much broader, nationwide attack on Ukraine.
That would trigger the largest war in Europe since Nazi Germany invaded much of Europe during the Second World War.
WORLD WAR THREE?
And there were fears in Eastern Europe that the conflict could turn into World War III with an increasingly isolated Russian president seeking to revive the Russia-led Soviet Union, which collapsed in the early 1990s.
Thousands of American soldiers have already arrived in Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, and the Baltics, as well as in Ukraine itself, a U.S. security diplomat told Worthy News.
Signs of an imminent broader invasion became clear early Thursday local time with the Kremlin saying that Putin received an appeal for “help in repelling the aggression of the armed forces and formations of Ukraine.”
Russian media have claimed that Ukraine is about to launch an offensive against the Russia-backed separatist territories in eastern Ukraine despite strong denials by Kyiv.
The U.S. senior security source talking you Worthy News and other Western officials say Russia could use a claim of Ukrainian aggression as a pretext for an invasion.
Moscow has made clear it has a moral obligation to defend the Russian-speaking community in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region.
The Russian government and state-controlled media echoed that argument claiming, without evidence, that Ukraine is carrying out a “genocide” against Russian speakers.
Late Wednesday night, Moscow said that separatist leaders in eastern Ukraine had requested Russian President Putin’s “help in repelling the aggression of the armed forces and formations of Ukraine.”
Witnesses already said they saw Russian armed columns in the region as part of an apparent invasion. In its most dire assessment yet, the U.S. military said 80 percent of at least 190,000 Russian troops and separatist forces in or near Ukraine are now in combat-ready positions.
“They are ready to go,” John F. Kirby, the top Pentagon spokesman, told reporters. “They could attack at any time,” he added, “with a significant military force.”
In response, the United States and the European Union announced sanctions ranging from freezing assets of officials near Putin to halting a critical Russian natural gas pipeline to the rest of Europe.
Yet, those measures did little to return peace to the increasingly volatile frontlines of the worst East-West standoff since the Cold War.
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