The Russian leader looks set to give the green light to a new invasion of his western neighbour. The US President Joe Biden told Americans last night that he believed the Russian tyrant had made up his mind to launch a military strike. During a televised address from the White House, he said the US had “reason to believe” that Russian forces were “planning to and intend to attack Ukraine in the coming week, in the coming days”.
“As of this moment I am convinced that he (Putin) has made the decision,” he added.
In a sign that the Russian President is deploying all forces at his disposal, a convoy of Chechen armoured vehicles was spotted earlier this month travelling towards Krasnodar.
The Russian city is within striking distance of the Crimea and southern Ukraine.
A video shared on social media showed armoured vehicles from the Akhmad Kadyrov special motorised regiment of the Russian Guard on the move.
The vehicles included Ural-VV and Tiger armoured vehicles.
The Ural-VV is a derivative of the popular Ural-4320 truck with a 6×6 wheel configuration.
The Tiger is a 4×4, multipurpose, all-terrain infantry mobility vehicle manufactured by GAZ.
The convoy was geolocated and identified as moving from Grozny to Krasnodar by the journalist Mark Krutov.
The Conflict Intelligence Team, an analytical group that studies military conflicts, said that the Chechen National Guard rarely leaves the republic.
The units are directly under the control of Chechnya’s brutal leader, Ramzan Kadyrov.
Mr Kadryov became leader after his father was assassinated by rebels in May 2004.
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He seemingly enjoys a close relationship with Mr Putin and has almost total autonomy on how he rules his territory.
The 45-year-old has a reputation for going after his enemies and has ruthlessly crushed internal dissent.
Just recently he sent Chechen police to arrest the wife of Saidi Yangulbayev in the Russian town of Nizhny Novgorod.
Mr Yangulbayev is a former member of the Chechen Supreme Court and sought sanctuary in Russia for himself and his family, after fleeing Chechnya in fear of his life.
Mr Kadyrov had personally declared a blood vengeance on Mr Yangulbayev’s entire family in response to criticism of his regime by family members and the human rights activities of his eldest sons.
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It comes as a US Defence official estimated that more than 40 percent of the Russian forces gathered on Ukraine’s borders were now in a position to attack.
“Forty to fifty percent are in an attack position,” the official told reporters.
“They have uncoiled in tactical assembly in the last 48 hours,” he added.
Defence analysts working for the Atlantic Council organisation warned that the Kremlin had completed preparations for a large-scale offensive operation.
They said that Russian forces could “likely execute a further invasion of Ukraine with less than twelve hours of unambiguous warning.”