Russia will conduct a weekend practice run for its nuclear weapons system amid the West's most tense standoff since the Cold War.
Multiple practice launches of intercontinental missiles and cruise missiles are scheduled for Saturday following a warning by President Joe Biden that Russia could invade Ukraine in a matter of days.
NATO claims that Russian President Vladimir Putin failed to fulfill his promise of withdrawing some 150,000 troops positioned around Ukraine's borders. This ruins hopes for a de-escalation. The Kremlin claims it does not intend to invade.
The United States and allies are maintaining diplomatic pressure to stop a potential invasion of Ukraine. Biden will be discussing Russia and Ukraine with transatlantic leaders on Friday via phone call. Kamala Harris, the vice president, is also participating in this meeting. This weekend, she will be attending the Munich Security Conference in Germany. She hopes to strengthen the unity of Washington’s European allies.
The U.S. Secretary Of State Antony Blinken, however, will be present - Russian officials will not.
Here are some examples of what is happening and why.
WHAT'S HAPPENING AT THE KREMLIN
Putin will be watching drills involving Russia’s strategic nuclear forces, according to the Kremlin.
According to the Defense Ministry, Putin will oversee Saturday's display by his country's nuclear power. The exercise will include the Black Sea Fleet, which is based in Crimea. In 2014, Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine.
NATO is also expanding its presence in the eastern regions.
The U.S. began sending 5,000 troops to Poland, and Romania. Friday's announcement by the Biden administration was that it had approved a $6 billion sale to Poland of 250 Abrams battle tank and related equipment.
Britain has sent hundreds of soldiers to Poland, and offered more warships or planes. It is also increasing the personnel presence in Estonia by doubling it and sending tanks, armored fighting vehicles and other combat vehicles.
The Netherlands, Norway, Germany and Norway are sending additional troops into Lithuania. The Dutch government is also sending 100 sniper rifles to Ukraine, as well as combat helmets, body armor, and two mine detection robots, and weapon-detection radar system systems.
What are the DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS TO PREVENT WORLD WAR II? The White House has announced that Biden will be calling trans-Atlantic leaders Friday afternoon. According to the Canadian prime minister's office, the call will be with leaders from Canada, France and Germany as well as Poland, Italy, Poland and Romania.
Biden warned of dire warnings on Thursday. He said that Washington had detected additional Russian troops approaching the border with Ukraine.
Harris, Vice President, indicated that the alliance's approach would not change in the face of the crisis.
Harris stated in Munich that "We remain, naturally, open to and desirous diplomacy as it pertains to the dialogue and discussions we have had avec Russia."
She said that she was also committed to ensuring there are severe consequences if Russia takes aggressive actions, as she met with NATO Secretary General Jens Steltenberg.
Annalena Baerbock, German Foreign Minister, expressed regret at the decision of Russian leaders not to attend the Munich Security Conference. This conference provides an opportunity for discussion.
Baerbock stated that it was especially important to meet Russian representatives in Munich, particularly in the current, very dangerous situation. She added that even small steps towards peace are better than big ones toward war.
Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Foreign Minister, said Friday to French broadcaster LCI: "Everything's possible, a massive Russian interference, but also (continuing), diplomatic discussion."
WHAT'S GOING ON AT THE GROUND?
Biden stated at the White House that the U.S. believes Russia is engaged in a "false flag operation" to provide it with a pretext for its invasion of Ukraine. There are many hotspots in Ukraine and other potential flashpoints that could lead to a full-scale military intervention.
Some observers worry that the almost 8-year-old separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine could be used to provide cover for Moscow. Separatist-controlled areas, where some 14,000 people have died in the fighting since 2014, saw intensified shelling and apparent cyberattacks over the past two days.
Separatists backed by Russia announced Friday that they would evacuate civilians to Russia.
The international monitors assigned to monitoring eastern Ukraine reported over 500 explosions during the 24 hours ending on Thursday, midday.
Separatist authorities in Luhansk, Donetsk reported that Ukrainian forces had increased shelling along the tense line.
Officials in Ukraine claimed that rebels increased the level of shelling in an attempt to provoke a government response.
Jeppe Kofod, Danish Foreign Minister, stated Friday that there have been "many escalations", illegal weapons, artillery, and other incidents in the last 24 hours.
According to Denmark's Ekstra Bladet, he said that "It's impressive what the Ukrainians have also managed" to "hold back in relation to all the provocations they are exposed daily."