Source: Express

VLADIMIR PUTIN could be on the brink of invading Ukraine as UK defense chiefs fear he has opted for a “nightmare scenario”.

Security experts have sounded the alarm after around 100,000 troops amassed near the Ukrainian border and armored divisions moved into Belarus within striking distance of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. A senior defense source said they believed Mr. Putin’s aim was to grab as much of Ukraine as he could.

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They told MailOnline: “We strongly believe [Putin’s] preference is for a full invasion rather than a limited offensive.

“In a sense, he might as well go for as much of Ukraine as he can get hold of because the penalties are just the same.

“Also, if he just occupies the eastern regions he will never be able to take back the whole of Ukraine because of the inevitable strengthening of Ukrainian forces in the remainder of the country in the aftermath.

“It is the nightmare scenario.”

Ukraine is not a member of NATO so it is unlikely that there would be a military response from the west.

Economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the USA and the UK will apply regardless of whether Mr Putin decides to invade or not.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki underlined the severity of the situation.

She said: “Our view is this is an extremely dangerous situation.

“We’re now at a stage where Russia could at any point launch an attack in Ukraine, and what Secretary Blinken is going to go do is highlight very clearly there is a diplomatic path forward.

“It is the choice of President Putin and the Russians to make, whether they are going to suffer severe economic consequences or not.”

Russia has denied it is planning an invasion and insisted that its main goal is to ensure that Ukraine does not join NATO.

However, there have been claims from officials that Russia has employed agents trained in sabotage and urban warfare to launch a ‘false-flag’ attack on pro-Russian separatists, providing the pretext for invasion.

There has also been an active Russian social media campaign depicting Ukraine as the aggressor.

Ukraine’s defense ministry is forming new reserve battalions which would deploy 130,000 recruits to add to its 246,000 strong militaries.