'We will rally the world': US issues stark warning to Russia

15 February 2022, 15:28 | Updated: 15 February 2022, 22:40

By Emma Soteriou

US President Joe Biden has issued a stark warning to Russia, saying "we will rally the world" if Vladimir Putin goes ahead with an invasion into Ukraine.

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Speaking in a press conference, Mr Biden said: "If Russia proceeds, we will rally the world to oppose its aggression."

He warned that Nato countries were prepared to bring in several sanctions if necessary but also reminded the public that he wanted to give "diplomacy every chance to succeed".

It comes after Russia's defence ministry said some troops positioned on the border with Ukraine were returning to their bases, with Moscow releasing footage appearing to show military tanks heading back to their bases.

However, Mr Biden said it had not yet been verified that Russian units were returning to bases and "they remain very much in threatening positions".

He added that it is believed that over 150,000 troops now line Ukraine's border - an increase from the previously estimated 130,000.

Nato said it had not seen any signs of de-escalation from the ground - despite Russia claiming it was pulling some troops away from the Ukrainian border and Vladimir Putin insisting "we don't want war".

False flag operations were reported to have begun, with Russian news agencies RIA and TASS claiming that the Ministry of State Security of the Luhansk People's Republic (LPR) prevented a terrorist attack in the centre of Luhansk in the Donbas, which is recognised as part of Ukraine.

Mr Putin said during a press conference with German leader Olaf Scholz on Tuesday afternoon that the situation in the eastern Donbas region was "genocide", and called for the conflict there to be resolved. 

He said: "In our view what is now happening in Donbas is genocide."

Mr Putin also said "of course we don't" want war in Europe, which is why talks are ongoing.

However, he added that the results of the negotiations should be an agreement on "equal security". 

"Unfortunately, there has been no meaningful constructive response to our proposals," he said.

The Russian president insisted he had tried to secure a compromise with Ukraine but his suggestions "haven't been put into action". 

He also claimed "there are mass violations of human rights in Ukraine and they're being legitimised".

Read more: Free Covid tests to be scrapped for everyone from next week, LBC can reveal

Read more: 'We don't trust them': Foreign Sec fears Russia is plotting 'false flag' invasion 

But Nato Secretary General - Jens Stoltenberg - also said everything remains in place for an attack at any moment.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, he said: "So far, we have not seen any de-escalation on the ground, but we will continue to monitor the signs coming from Moscow about their willingness to continue to engage in diplomatic efforts.

"That gives us some reason for cautious optimism."

He added: "We will, of course, follow very closely what's happening on the ground and whether this is effected in some real de-escalation of the Russian military build-up in and around Ukraine."

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson said there are "mixed signals" coming from Russia.

Following a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee, Mr Johnson said: "Last night going into today, clearly there are signs of a diplomatic opening."

He added that the "intelligence that we are seeing today is still not encouraging", with Russian field hospitals being built close to Belarus' border with Ukraine.

That could only be "construed as preparation for an invasion", the Prime Minister said.

Despite Russian claims about troop withdrawals, Mr Johnson said intelligence suggested "you have got more battalion tactical groups being brought closer to the border".

"So, mixed signals, I think, at the moment," Mr Johnson said.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told LBC earlier on Tuesday that Russia could be plotting a "false flag" invasion of Ukraine "in the next few days".

"I do not trust what [Russia has] said," she said.

"There have been numerous occasions where we've seen, as I've said, false flag incidents set up by the Russians.

"We very much fear a false flag incident in the next few days, where the Russians pretend that there has been provocation from Ukraine in order to justify an invasion."

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