Massive consequences Putin warned as he prepares extraordinary speech TODAY

Ukraine: Putin 'considering other scenario' for invasion

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Tensions between Russia and Ukraine have reached boiling point over recent months. In September, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy warned an all-out war with Russia could be a “possibility”. Since 2014, more than 14,000 people have been killed in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Over the weekend, around 200 military vehicles were spotted in Shebekino, Russia, near Ukraine’s Kharkiv Oblast. These were linked to pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.

Thousands of civilians have been evacuated after explosions shook east of Ukraine on Saturday night.

Kiev confirmed two of its soldiers had died in the attack marking the first fatalities in the conflict for more than a month.

Mr Zelenskiy called on his Russian counterpart to meet him for talks amid the escalating crisis.

Now, the EU Commission president has warned Mr Putin he will face “massive consequences” if he starts a war.

Ms von der Leyen said: “We do not want war, we want the international peace order to be respected, but if President Putin starts a war with Ukraine, we will respond with massive consequences.”

She said work had been done systematically to “put together a large sanctions package”.

The Commission president continued: “The step of the sanctions is so huge, so massive for Russia, that we also know that we are still giving Russia a chance again and again to find its way back to diplomacy and to the negotiating table.

“And this window of opportunity is still open.”

German Left-wing politician Sahra Wagenknecht added: “Of course, sanctions would hurt Russia considerably, but they would also do massive damage to Germany and Europe in particular.

“They gain geopolitically and economically, and that is why we are simply stupid to get involved.”

She told the German political talk show, Anne Will: “They are not interested in occupying Ukraine, they are interested in getting security guarantees.”

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Today, the Russian President will hold an unscheduled meeting of his Security Council this afternoon after the Kremlin declared that “tensions are rising”.

Russian press has said it will be a “large” and “extraordinary” speech.

This unprecedented meeting will “for better or worse” gives us a clearer idea of “where we are at”, said Professor Sir Lawrence Freedman, Emeritus Professor of War Studies at King’s College London.

The meeting comes just hours after the Federal Security Service of Russia claimed a Ukrainian shell destroyed a border checkpoint near Rostov, 150 metres from the border.

Max Seddon, the Financial Time’s Moscow Bureau Chief, tweeted: “The drumbeat of alleged Ukrainian war crimes is getting louder, giving Russia more and more possible pretexts for invasion.”

He added: “Here is a not entirely convincing video, in which everything around the ‘explosion’ is intact and they don’t actually show you any damage.”

Moscow has repeatedly blamed Ukraine for several incidents, which are all thought to be false flags.

After World War 2, the western part of Ukraine merged with the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, making the whole country a part of the Soviet Union.

It regained its independence in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Many Russians, including Mr Putin and other figures within the Kremlin, still consider Ukraine a part of Russia.

Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg

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