The United States has stated that Russia is on the verge of launching a massive military assault on Ukraine.
This statement from the United States comes at a time when Russia has been claiming that it has started to pull back its troops from the frontline.
The United States’ claim follows artillery shelling by Russia-backed forces, targeting Ukraine’s civilian areas on Thursday.
Shelling by Russia-backed Ukrainian rebel forces on Thursday struck a kindergarten in at a village in the Luhansk region of Ukraine.
Reportedly, children were inside the school when the artillery shells struck it, resulting in injuries to at least three people.
Following the shelling, US President Joe Biden said that there it is an indication that Russia is planning to invade Ukraine.
Biden said that Moscow was carrying out a false flag operation to justify an invasion, after Ukrainian forces and pro-Moscow rebels traded fire.
“We have reason to believe they are engaged in a false flag operation to have an excuse to… attack Ukraine,” Biden said.
Meanwhile, Russia expelled a top United States diplomat – US deputy chief of mission Bart Gorman citing “visa war”.
On the other hand, Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine’s eastern province of Luhansk have accused the government of two more mortar attacks.
Shelling along the border in Ukraine’s separatist-controlled east also has fuelled speculation that Russia might be creating a pretext to invade Ukraine.
The US Senate, on Thursday night, unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution in support of independent and democratic Ukraine against Russia’s possible invasion.
“The Senate reaffirms unwavering United States commitment to support the continuing efforts of the Government of Ukraine to restore its territorial integrity by providing political, diplomatic, and military support, including additional lethal and non-lethal security assistance to strengthen the defence capabilities of Ukraine,” the text of the resolution read.
Meanwhile, latest satellite images provided by the US space technology company Maxar show that wide-scale Russian military activity persists close to Ukraine’s borders, despite recent Russian claims of de-escalation and withdrawal.
The images show that Ukraine remains surrounded on three sides – on its borders with both Russia and Belarus – by Russian military hardware and troop concentrations.
In latest reports, heavy fighting between Ukrainian military and Russia-backed forces has begun in the city of Toretsk which is currently controlled by Ukrainian forces.
The fighting consists of heavy artillery shelling and scattered small arms fire toward the point of contact.