Russia could mount a 'full-scale invasion of Ukraine with no notice', minister tells LBC

14 February 2022, 08:30 | Updated: 14 February 2022, 08:54

By Sophie Barnett

Russia has the capacity to mount a "full-scale invasion" of Ukraine with "no notice", Armed Forces minister James Heappey has told LBC.

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Speaking to Nick Ferrari at Breakfast with Tom Swarbrick, Mr Heappey said there is a possibility for a "full-scale invasion" if there is the "political will in Moscow".

"If you look at the force dispositions, there is a very very significant build-up of troops in the bottom corner of Russia and in Belarus," Mr Heappey warned.

"Potentially there are opportunities for at least three separate avenues of advance, and that would suggest there is the capacity, if there is the political will in Moscow for a full-scale invasion."

Mr Heappey explained that in recent days there has been the arrival of key combat enablers, combat aircraft and missile systems on the border.

He urged Brits to leave now as the Government may not be able to give them any notice if Russia does choose to launch an invasion.

Read more: Eleventh hour peace bid: PM to hold crisis talks as Russia on 'brink of war with Ukraine'

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"There has been a build-up of troops that's been going on for some time and indeed it probably reached a point three or four months ago where a more limited incursion may have been militarily feasible at that point," Mr Heappey said.

"But what we've seen in recent days is the arrival of key combat enablers, combat aircraft, missile systems, artillery - all of which would allow a force of 130,000 troops to mount an attack on Ukraine with no notice."

He added there is a "responsibility" to communicate to British citizens the imminence of the threat.

"We may not be able to give them any more notice, therefore they should leave now," he warned.

But Ukranian diplomat Vasyl Filipchuk, also told LBC Russia would be "insane and stupid" to invade Ukraine.

He warned foreign troops would be "met with strong resistance and not flowers".

Asked by Tom Swarbrick whether he is concerned of an "imminent threat", Mr Filipchuk said: "You feel sort of nervousness in Kiev if you talk to people, but in reality if you compare how it is traditionally described in western media and how you feel inside of Kiev capital it's like two parallel worlds.

Boris Johnson will continue with diplomatic efforts this week despite No 10 confirming all information suggests Moscow could be planning an invasion "at any moment".

Read more: 'Even children are laughing at him': Boris mocked by Russia as tensions rise over Ukraine

Downing Street did not set out which world leaders he was hoping to talk to this week or where he plans to travel, but it was understood Mr Johnson is keen to engage with Nordic and Baltic countries.

Mr Johnson was also said to be working with allies to provide further defensive and economic support to Kiev, with an announcement touted for the coming days.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace is also set to head to Brussels for a meeting of Nato defence ministers this week to discuss their response to the crisis.

The US said they had picked up intelligence that Russia was looking at Wednesday as a target date, according to a United States official familiar with the findings.

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