During a press conference today, Price also said that Russia’s ongoing claims that they are de-escalating their military presence around Ukraine is false, but that diplomacy remains possible.
“To be very, very clear, we have not seen that,” said Price in regards to Russia’s claims of military de-escalation.
Price also said that Russian officials are spreading disinformation to provide pretext for a possible invasion, including statements about military provocations made by Ukraine or the US as well as human rights violations in Ukraine.
“People must treat any and all of these claims with the appropriate and healthy skepticism,” said Price, adding that all claims made by Russian state media should be viewed with doubt unless vetted by independent media.
“Russia relies on confusion. Russia relies on obfuscation. Russia relies on misinformation and disinformation to cover its tracks,” said Price. “We should all expect that and we should all be ready for that.”
The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, will be attending the Munich security conference in Germany on Friday to discuss Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine, confirmed the State Department.
A statement from the State Department spokesperson, Ned Price, said Blinken will attend the four-day conference, discussing efforts to get Russia to de-escalate and ways to strengthen European security.
Blinken will also be meeting with counterparts about other global issues.
That’s all from me, Léonie Chao-Fong in London, for today. I’m handing over to my colleague Gloria Oladipo but before I do, here are the key events so far:
Russia is continuing to send troops to what is now the biggest concentration of forces in Europe since the cold war, contradicting Moscow’s claims of a drawdown on Ukraine’s border, Nato’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, has said.
In a warning shot to the Kremlin, Stoltenberg, a former prime minister of Norway, announced that the military alliance was considering deploying further battle groups in eastern and central Europe.
They would complement those established in 2014 in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, led by the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and the United States. The French government has offered to lead a force in Romania.
During a break in talks between Nato defence ministers in Brussels, Stoltenberg said:
We will have advice from the military commanders within weeks and we will make a decision after that.
What we see today is that Russia maintains a massive invasion force ready to attack with high end capabilities from Crimea to Belarus. This is the biggest concentration of forces in Europe since the cold war.
An attack could come “at any time” by Russia, the White House said. In a briefing, press secretary Jen Psaki said
There’s what Russia says, and there’s what Russia does, and we’re watching very closely what steps they’re taking but they remain amassed in a threatening way.
US officials are not yet able to attribute who was responsible for a cyber attack against Ukraine.
She said any Russian attack on Ukraine could be preceded by a “false flag” operation and misinformation.
The UK will scrap the so-called “golden visa” scheme next week in a bid to halt the flow of Russian “dirty money” into the UK, the Times reports.
The home secretary, Priti Patel, has decided to close the route because of “long-standing concerns” over abuse of the scheme by criminal groups and the super-rich from several countries, the paper writes.
Under the scheme, launched in 2008, applicants provide a minimum investment of £2m in exchange for the right to live in Britain. They can later apply for full citizenship and a passport.
The decision comes amid increased scrutiny of Britain’s visa rules and how tier 1 investor visas granted to the super-rich from several countries, including Russia, China and Kazakhstan, may be connected to “dirty money”.
Britain has faced criticism over claims it has failed to properly monitor the billions of pounds of Russian money which has flowed into London over the past two decades.
Patel has now decided to scrap the scheme altogether and is understood to have brought forward a decision on the visas due to increased scrutiny in the wake of the crisis in Ukraine, the Times writes.
Hundreds of US paratroopers landed at a Polish airport near the Ukrainian border as part of a deployment of several thousand to bolster NATO’s eastern flank amid tensions with Russia, Agence France-Presse reports.
Soldiers were seen disembarking from two Boeing C-17 military transport planes and boarding buses at Rzeszow Airport, located around 100 kilometres (62 miles) from the border with Ukraine.
Armoured cars, military trucks, containers and dozens more soldiers were seen at a makeshift camp set up opposite the airport terminal.
“We don’t know yet,” a sergeant manning a checkpoint into the camp, who declined to be named, told AFP when asked how long they might stay.
The US has said it is planning to temporarily deploy around 4,700 additional soldiers to EU and NATO member Poland, bringing the US military presence in the country to around 10,000 troops on rotation.
Ukraine’s candidate for the Eurovision song contest, Alina Pash, has withdrawn from the process following claims that she made a trip to Crimea, an area where Russia seized control in 2014.
Ukraine’s national broadcaster had already put her confirmation as the country’s act on hold while an investigation was being carried out into a 2015 trip she made to Crimea.
Under Ukrainian law, it is illegal to travel to Crimea via Russia. Pash had provided official documentation showing that she did not enter Crimea via Russia, but that is currently under scrutiny.
In an Instagram post, Pash, 28, wrote:
I am a Ukrainian citizen. I follow Ukrainian law and try to bring Ukraine’s traditions and values into the world.
What this story has come to is not at all what I tried to convey with my song.
I don’t want to be in this dirty story anymore. With a heavy heart I withdraw my candidacy as the representative of Ukraine in the Eurovision song contest.
I am really sorry.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky declares ‘we will defend ourselves’
At an address in the eastern port city of Mariupol, President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed that his country would fight back against any invasion.
Wearing a military-style olive green coat during a speech to mark what he had declared Ukraine’s “Day of Unity”, Zelensky said:
We are not afraid of forecasts, we are not afraid of anyone, of any enemies. We will defend ourselves.
He went on to say:
We have a wonderful, strong armed forces. We have excellent diplomats, volunteer forces and national resistance forces throughout Ukraine.
The strength to protect us. Protect your land. Enough force to not succumb to any provocations.
UK to double number of British troops in Estonia as part of Nato mission
Britain will double the size of the British force in Estonia as part of a Nato deployment and will send equipment, including tanks and armoured fighting vehicles, to the country amid fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
In a statement, the UK’s defence minister, Ben Wallace, said:
Alongside our Nato allies, we are deploying troops and assets on land, sea and air to bolster European defences in response to the build-up of Russian military forces on the border of Ukraine.
Nato and our allies have been clear that an invasion of Ukraine will be met with severe consequences.