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U.S. says Russia expected to invade Ukraine ‘very soon’


Civilians attend a military exercise for territorial defense amid the tension on the border with Russia, in Ukrainian capital Kyiv, Ukraine 13 February 2022.

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Russia has compiled lists of Ukrainians to target after an invasion, a U.S. official has said, as President Vladimir Putin is set to address his country’s security council.

In a letter to the U.N.’s Human Rights chief, seen by NBC News, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Bathsheba Nell Crocker said the U.S. had “credible information” that Russia has compiled lists of Ukrainians “to be killed or sent to camps” following an invasion. The contents of the letter were first reported Sunday evening by The Washington Post.

“We also have credible information that Russian forces will likely use lethal measures to disperse peaceful protests or otherwise counter peaceful exercises of perceived resistance from civilian populations,” she said.

The Kremlin refuted Crocker’s accusations on Monday, dubbing reports that Russia had drawn up such lists as “fiction” when asked about it by reporters.

“You do understand that this is an absolute fake, that it’s a lie?” he said.

Crocker also said in her letter that other human rights violations and abuses in the aftermath of an invasion were being planned in Moscow. Those who oppose Russian actions — including Russian and Belarusian dissidents in exile in Ukraine — as well as journalists, religious and ethnic minorities and the LGBTQI+ community were at risk of being subjected to these abuses, Crocker warned.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Alexei Reznikov told Ukrainian broadcaster ICTV on Monday that an invasion was unlikely to occur “tomorrow or the day after tomorrow,” as no Russian “strike groups” had congregated at the border.

He added, however, that these groups could be set up within weeks.

It came after the White House warned Moscow was planning to launch a full-scale attack on Ukraine “very soon,” and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned there was evidence Russia is planning “the biggest war in Europe since 1945.”

Last week, the U.S. estimated there were now between 169,000 and 190,000 Russian troops in and near Ukraine, up from 100,000 at the end of January. The updated figures came despite Russian claims that it had begun to withdraw troops from the border, which were also contradicted by NATO and the EU.

Russia has repeatedly denied it plans to invade neighboring Ukraine. It has demanded guarantees that Ukraine never be allowed to join NATO — a request rejected by the military alliance and the U.S. — and has said it wants the organization to scale back its presence in eastern Europe.

Putin is set to address Russia’s security council imminently, Reuters reported on Monday, in what was described as “not a regular session” by Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov.

Peskov also told reporters on Monday that while tensions were growing over Ukraine, Russian diplomatic officials were active, according to Reuters.

Fighting escalates in…


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U.S. says Russia expected to invade Ukraine ‘very soon’