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Russia could drag out Ukraine crisis for months, warns Liz Truss

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Ms Truss said it was essential not to be “lulled into a false sense of security” by Moscow’s claims it was beginning draw back its forces from the borders of its southern neighbour.

Her warning came after Britain’s head of military intelligence said that contrary to the Kremlin’s assertions, Russia was actually continuing to move forces into the border zone.

Lieutenant General Sir Jim Hockenhull, the Chief of Defence Intelligence, said there have been sightings of additional armoured vehicles, helicopters and a field hospital in the area.

In a statement issued late on Wednesday, he said: “Contrary to their claims, Russia continues to build up military capabilities near Ukraine.

“This includes sightings of additional armoured vehicles, helicopters and a field hospital moving towards Ukraine’s borders. Russia has the military mass in place to conduct an invasion of Ukraine.”

Writing in The Telegraph, Ms Truss, who will this week visit Ukraine and Poland in a fresh show of support for allies, said there was no evidence Moscow was ready to pull back.

“We must not be lulled into a false sense of security by Russia claiming that some troops are returning to their barracks, while in fact the Russian military build-up shows no signs of slowing,” she said.

“We must have no illusions that Russia could drag this out much longer in a brazen ploy to spend weeks more – if not months – subverting Ukraine and challenging Western unity. This is a test of our mettle.”

/ PA Graphics

Moscow has repeatedly denied that it has any intention of attacking Ukraine, despite massing an estimated 130,000 troops along the border.

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