NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned on Thursday that Russia are trying to stage a false “pretext” to launch an invasion of Ukraine.
The NATO chief accused the Kremlin of attempting to conduct “false flag operations” following reports that eastern Ukraine was struck with heavy shelling in the Donbass region which also hit a Kindergarten.
A false flag operation is an act committed with the intent of disguising the actual source of responsibility and pinning blame on another party.
Stoltenberg said, “We cannot accept a return to the age of spheres of influence where big powers bully, intimidate or dictate to others.”
There is now an estimated 170,000 Russian troops with heavy armament on the three sides of Ukraine and Stoltenberg warned an invasion could be launched “with very little or no warning.”
The British Armed Forces Minister James Heappey warned that an invasion is “very, very imminent if not inevitable.”
Stoltenberg told a press conference at NATO HQ in Brussels, “We are concerned that Russia is trying to stage a pretext for an armed attack against Ukraine.
“It is still no clarity, no certainty about Russian intentions. We don’t know what will happen.
“But we do know is that Russia has amassed the biggest force we’ve seen in Europe for decades, in and around Ukraine.
“And we also know there are many Russian intelligence officers operating in Ukraine… and we’ve seen attempts to stage a pretext, false flag operations to provide an excuse for invading Ukraine.”
Heappey told told ITV’s Good Morning Britain, “Formations are shaking out into their attack positions.
“So it could happen today, tomorrow, it could happen next Wednesday, it could happen in two weeks’ time.
“But the fact is that it is very, very imminent – if not inevitable.
“And that is why diplomacy needs to continue at top speed in order to try and avert what could be utterly catastrophic.”