Boris to ramp up pressure on Kremlin as Ukraine fears Belarus could invade

12 March 2022, 01:49 | Updated: 12 March 2022, 01:52

There are fears that Belarus could invade Ukraine in coming days too.
There are fears that Belarus could invade Ukraine in coming days too. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Emma Soteriou

Boris Johnson is ramping up pressure on the Kremlin as conflict in Ukraine intensifies, with Russian forces closing in on Kyiv and growing fears that Belarus could be 'drawn into the invasion'.

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The UK Government announced plans to ban exports of luxury goods to Russia in the latest move to isolate Vladimir Putin, following a G7 meeting on Friday.

The group agreed to take steps to deny Russia "most favoured nation" status on key products, which No 10 said would significantly reduce the ability of Russian businesses to export.

It comes amid concerns from Ukraine that Belarus could invade imminently, while Russian forces continue to close in on the west of the country as well as the capital of Kyiv.

Read more: Chernobyl catastrophe: Putin 'stockpiles Ukrainian bodies for nuclear terror plot'

Read more: 'We will win': Defiant Zelenskyy vows not to give 'single piece' of land to Putin

Kyiv's Centre for Strategic Communications said in a statement on Friday: "According to preliminary data, Belarusian troops may be drawn into an invasion on March 11 at 9pm (7pm GMT)."

Ukraine's Minister of Defence, Oleksii Reznikov, later spoke of a potential false flag operation that could take place to initiate the move.

He posted on Facebook: "Based on the information in which we are fully confident and which we have confirmed, at this very moment the command of the Russian occupation forces is preparing a series of bloody provocations.

"According to their criminal intent, the Russian aviation is preparing to launch a strike at several settlements on the territory of the Republic of Belarus located near the Ukrainian-Belarusian border.

"In particular, they are planning to hit the settlement of Kopany (Stolyn region of Brest oblast).To mask this crime, Russia intends to carry out the strike from Ukrainian airspace.

"The purpose of this provocation is to force the current leadership of Belarus into war against Ukraine. Moscow is trying to bind you with blood.

"I guarantee that the Ukrainian army did not plan, is not planning and will not plan any aggressive actions against Belarus."

An intelligence update from the UK's Ministry of Defence also revealed that troops had begun their attack on the west of the country on day 16.

It said: "In the past 24 hours, Russian air and missile forces have conducted strikes against the western Ukrainian cities of Lutsk and Ivano-Frankivsk.

"The staunch resistance of the Ukrainian air defence forces is compelling Russia to rely on 'stand-off' munitions to conduct attacks against targets deep inside Ukraine."

There has been renewed fighting on the outskirts of Kyiv too, with the 40-mile long convoy - intended to surround the capital - having moved three miles closer, according to a senior US defence official.

Despite the increased attacks, US President Joe Biden warned on Friday evening that direct involvement of Nato countries in the ongoing conflict would lead to a Third World War.

The US will "not fight a war against Russia in Ukraine", Mr Biden tweeted.

He said: "I want to be clear: we will defend every inch of NATO territory with the full might of a united and galvanized NATO."

But he added: "A direct confrontation between NATO and Russia is World War III. 

"And something we must strive to prevent."

Meanwhile, Putin is said to be stockpiling corpses of dead Ukrainian soldiers to plant as evidence in a "man-made catastrophe" at Chernobyl.

Ukraine's military intelligence unit said there was evidence that Russian forces were planning to blame Ukraine for a nuclear leak at the power plant, adding that the Russian military was collecting the bodies of deceased Ukrainian servicemen to plant at the radioactive site.

Chernobyl - the dormant nuclear power plant - has been under the control of Russian forces since its capture early in the invasion of Ukraine.

It is believed that 400 Russian troops are currently stationed there.

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