Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has ordered Mr Putin to “immediately de-escalate the situation” while reiterating the UK’s support for Ukraine. Footage widely shared on social media appears to show large numbers of tanks and other materiel massing close to Russia’s western border with Ukraine, while other footage purportedly showed more equipment being transported through Crimea, which Mr Putin annexed in 2014.
Mr Weber, the leader of the European People’s Party in the European Parliament, took to Twitter to voice his concern yesterday.
He posted: “#Russia is playing with fire with its military buildup towards the Ukraine border.
“The EU and the US should be extremely clear that this escalation will have consequences.
Referring to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), a treaty to which Russia is a signatory, he added: “@SecBlinken & I agreed Russia must immediately de-escalate the situation & live up to the international commitments that it signed up to at @OSCE
“Our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty is unwavering.”
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken discussed the situation by phone with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg yesterday.
A statement issued by the State Department said: “Secretary Blinken and Secretary General Stoltenberg discussed a range of issues, including the immediate need for Russia to cease its aggressive military buildup along Ukraine’s borders and in occupied Crimea.
“They also discussed the prospects for advancing peace in Afghanistan as well as plans for the upcoming NATO Summit.”
Mr Blinken is also due to meet with NATO officials today.
The State Department added: “The Secretary will take this opportunity to reaffirm the US commitment to the Transatlantic alliance as a critical partnership for achieving our mutual goals.
“Separately, Secretary Blinken will hold bilateral and multilateral meetings with European counterparts to discuss key priorities and shared challenges.”
Speaking to Russia Today France yesterday, Sergei Parinov, Press Office Chief of the Russian Embassy in Paris, attempted to pin the blame on Ukraine and the West.
He said: “Ukraine’s behaviour now comes due to the lack of the Western guarantors’ response to its violations.
“Today Ukraine is feeling its total impunity and keeps violating the Minsk agreements.
”The Ukrainian forces are there where they must not be in accordance with the Minsk agreements.”