The Russia-Ukraine crisis could be days from exploding into war, it is feared.
UK senior commanders and Whitehall officials are on "high alert" and monitoring the situation "with growing concern", a source told the Mirror.
Moscow has amassed close to 100,000 troops at the flashpoint border and senior Ukraine military sources fear its war-planners may have wrong-footed them.
Putin’s navy on Thursday piled on further pressure on embattled Kiev by announcing the deployment of a war-fighting fleet towards Ukraine arriving within days.
A source said: “Aggressive Russian troop movements towards the border have caused a great deal of concern within the Ministry of Defence.
“The situation is being monitored constantly. I would definitely describe this as a growing crisis.”
It is feared that within days more than 95,000 assault troops, backed by tanks, armoured vehicles, artillery and even thermobaric rocket batteries will be ready to invade.
Tens of thousands of Ukrainian troops – including reservists- have been called up to the border and US advisers are believed to be “in country,” according to sources.
American intelligence assessments grade the threat of a major Russia-Ukraine flare-up as “potential imminent crisis” as stated by their European operations centre EUCOM.
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War has raged along the 1,500 miles-long East Ukraine-Russia border since 2014 after the Euromaidan riots in Kiev and the overnight and lightning Russian invasion of neighbouring Crimea.
In brutal fighting, which has often returned to a trench warfare stand-off around 14,000 people are estimated to have been killed.
The brutal frontline stand-off has been worsened for Ukraine in the east by pro-Russian rebels, aided by Moscow’s GRU military intelligence spies.
More than ten heavily-armed Russian warships are now steaming towards the Caspian Sea from the Black Sea, armed with artillery and other weapons to back Putin’s land forces.
Russia’s Defence Ministry announced it was moving more than ten navy vessels, including landing boats and artillery warships to the Black Sea to take part in exercises.
But western nations and Ukraine have voiced alarm over the build-up as a five strong alliance or “QUINT” of the UK, US, Canada, Lithuania and Poland allies backed Ukraine.
UK defence Secretary Ben Wallace was among the Quint which issued a statement warning Russia: “The Quint Defence Ministers are united in our unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of increased Russian military activity.
“We will work closely with Ukraine to monitor the situation and continue to call on Russia to de-escalate.”
The Russian Ministry of Defence said in a statement: “As part of the winter training check, more than 10 amphibious and artillery boats and vessels of the southern military district are conducting an inter-fleet move from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea.”
Russia’s Black Sea fleet is based in Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
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