The Ukraine government has called a state of emergency, mobilised reserves and told nearly 3 million of its citizens to leave Russia, as the US warned that Vladimir Putin had assembled almost 100% of the forces needed to launch a large-scale invasion of the country.
As Russian diplomats evacuated their embassy in the capital, the Ukrainian government said a massive cyber-attack had targeted ministries and banks on Wednesday. Officials have warned that Russia could use elements of hybrid warfare to sow confusion before launching an all-out military assault.
According to several media reports, confirmed by the Guardian, the White House has warned the pro-western government of Volodymyr Zelenskiy to expect a large-scale offensive in the next 48 hours. The north-eastern city of Kharkiv, 40km from the border with Russia, is at particular risk, CNN reported, citing US intelligence.
“They have advanced their readiness where they are literally ready to go now if they get the order to go now,” a senior US defence official told reporters. “We assess today that he is near 100% of all the forces we anticipated he would move in.”
“They have plans to use reserves and their equivalent of the national guard,” the official said. “The implication would be that they have long-term goals here. You don’t call up a reserve or guard force if you’re not planning to be somewhere for a while.”
The Biden administration’s predictions of imminent attack have been wrong before, with a date given of last Wednesday – 16 February. But US, UK and Ukrainian officials all concur that Putin has to move in the next few days, or risk exhausting his troops waiting on the border.
The latest in a series of massive cyber-attacks launched against the country began as Ukraine’s security council convened to call a 30-day state of emergency that could lead to curfews or other emergency measures in case of an attack. The Ukrainian parliament was meeting on Wednesday night and was expected…