RAF jets scramble to Romania to ward off Putin threat as Russia vows to retaliate against ‘enemy’ America over Ukraine
RAF Typhoons are braced to patrol the Black Sea amid fears President Putin is preparing to invade Ukraine.
Top Guns expect to go toe-to-toe with Russian MIGs and Sukhoi jets as tensions reach boiling point.
The Typhoon FGR4s, armed with Paveway bombs and Brimstone missiles, will be part of a Nato “air policing mission”.
The fighter jets will be backed by US and UK spy planes and electronic warfare teams to jam enemy radars and missile tracking systems.
"It could hardly be more fraught," a source said. "This is a long-planned Nato mission that coincides a crisis that could erupt at any time."
Meanwhile, Moscow has reportedly dubbed the US its “adversary” as up to 85,000 Russian troops, plus thousands of tanks, missile trucks, armoured vehicles and long-range guns have massed near Ukraine's borders.
It accused the United States and other NATO countries of turning Ukraine into a "powder keg," after the West sounded the alarm over Russia massing soldiers on Ukraine's border.
It is the biggest show of force since Russia seized Crimea in 2014, triggering a conflict that claimed 14,000 lives.
Russia must immediately de-escalate the situation…Our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty is unwavering
Security sources confirmed that an RAF Rivet Joint spy plane probed Russian’s Black Sea frontier on Sunday to hoover up signals data ahead of the Typhoons’ deployment.
Two US warships are also steaming towards the Dardanelles straits – the entrance to the Black Sea – after Moscow ignored calls to backdown.
Meanwhile, Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, told NBC: “I have real concerns about Russia’s actions on the borders of Ukraine.
"President Biden has been very clear about this: if Russia acts recklessly or aggressively there will be costs, there will be consequences."
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Britain and America “firmly oppose Russia’s campaign to destabilise Ukraine”.
He said: "Russia must immediately de-escalate the situation…Our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty is unwavering."
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also warned Russia would face costs and consequences if it continued to act aggressively and recklessly.
Moscow claimed its troops were acting in self-defence and accused Kiev of provocations.
Yet Russian state TV yesterday warned Moscow is "one step away from war".
But last night, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said he was still waiting after requesting talks with Putin nearly three weeks ago.
His spokesman said: "We very much hope that this is not a refusal of dialogue."
Russia has sent 41,000 troops to the border in eastern Ukraine and 42,000 to Crimea and these numbers “keep growing”, say the Ukrainian government.
More than 14,000 people have been killed since Russia annexed Crimea and backed breakaway republics in eastern Ukraine in 2014 and efforts to negotiate a peace settlement have failed.
Security experts fear Russia may reoccupy eastern Ukraine on the pretence of protecting native Russian speakers there.
Air crew from RAF Lossiemouth, RAF Coningsby and RAF Wittering deployed to Romania’s Mihail Kogalniceanu Black Sea base last week.
The jets are due to arrive within days.
The RAF declined to comment on the Rivet Joint's patrols.
A spokesman said: “The RAF has a wide variety of cutting edge Intelligence gathering capabilities to obtain vital intelligence across the globe.
"We do not comment on intelligence operations."
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