Russia moves BUK missiles that downed MH17 to Ukraine border as it warns US 'it will retaliate' amid WW3 fears

RUSSIA is moving BUK missiles in a region close to Ukraine after warning they "will retaliate" if the US makes any "unfriendly moves" regarding increasing tensions.

The long-simmering conflict has reached boiling point – forcing international allies to attempt to defuse the situation, amid fears it could spark a World War if Moscow is massing a force capable of invading its neighbour. 

Russia has remained defiant in the face of the fallout, with the Foreign Minister promising they will not take US interference lightly after they pledged their "unwavering" support for Ukraine.

It appears they have no plans of dialling down their presence either, as the deadly BUK's were seen being moved in the Voronezh region which borders Ukraine – part of a huge task force being rapidly put in place, as a new video shows. 

The weapons system was used in the rebel-held Donetsk region in 2014 to down a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 killing 298 people. 

It comes after up to 4,000 soldiers alongside a fleet of tanks and other armoured vehicles were sent to the annexed Crime and the disputed border where the Putin-backed rebels have taken hold.

Footage also showed the transportation of at least six sinister 2S4 Tyulpan self-propelled mortars, which are capable of firing warheads up to 12 miles.

In a chilling caution, one of Vladimir Putin’s most senior officials, Dmitry Kozak, threatened that Ukraine would not survive if Russia took military action. 

"I support the assessment that … the start of military action – this would be the beginning of the end of Ukraine," said the deputy head of Russia’s presidential administration. 

Russia are reluctant to engage in negotiations, with Putin claiming the situation was down to "provocative actions of Kyiv, who has been intentionally escalating the situation at the contact line."

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov hit back at US involvement, saying: "We will take note of any unfriendly steps and this is for sure."

He told a news conference, "So far, I haven’t seen any particular decisions and nothing has been declared.

"I’ve read the reports that the (US) administration has completed the review of Russia’s 'hostile steps': they somehow managed to do this rather quickly because usually when we are accused of so many misdeeds, it’s hard to deal with this in a couple of weeks or even in a couple of months, but they did.

"They will probably punish us in other ways," Lavrov jibed.

The ominous message comes as the German Chancellor Merkel demanded President Putin withdraw the mounting presence of the Russian military around eastern Ukraine during a tense phone call.

The German Government revealed, "Among other things, the conversation was about the strengthened Russian military presence in the environs of East Ukraine.

"The Chancellor demanded that this build-up be unwound in order to de-escalate the situation."

Berlin and Paris have both reiterated their "support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine," in a joint display of unity, while calling for restraint in the war-torn region.

What is happening between Russia and Ukraine?

RUSSIA and the Ukraine have remained technically at war since 2014.

Ukraine was aligned with Russia as part of the Soviet Union until its collapse in 1991, following which it became an independent state.

Both nations remained closely tied – but Ukraine gradually began to distance itself, seeking deeper ties with the West.

The open conflict was triggered by the Ukrainian Revolution in 2014 – when an uprising overthrew the pro-Russian government of Viktor Yanukovych.

Vladimir Putin's forces reacted by annexing the region of Crimea from Ukraine – a move which was widely condemned by the West.

The conflict then spiralled when pro-Russian groups in Eastern Ukraine then took up arms against the state.

Russia gave their backing the separatist forces which formed breakaway republics in Donetsk and Luhansk.

Putin's forces then launched a military incursion into these regions as they gave their support to the rebels.

Russia continues to hold Crimea – and claims the region joined them willingly after they a referendum.

Almost seven years have now passed and the War in Donbass remains at a stalemate.

It is estimated some 14,000 have been killed in the conflict, including more than 3,00 civilians.

Ukraine and the rebels signed a new ceasefire in July 2020 – but clashes have been steadily increasing again since last November.

But European leaders are left walking on eggshells after Russia announced it will "take extra measures" if NATO sends forces to help Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: "No doubt such a scenario would lead to a further increase in tensions close to Russia's borders.

"Of course, this would call for additional measures from the Russian side to ensure its security."

In recent days, video evidence suggests he has moved heavy armour and troops thousands of miles – including from deep in Siberia – close to the Ukrainian border. 

Satellite pictures show a field camp for Russian forces in the same region as the BUK was seen. 

The Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT) highlighted the base which has appeared in recent days.

Ruslan Leviev, from CIT, told BBC Ukraine: "We notice the movement of all the units. 

"These are both "Pskov paratroopers" and motorised infantry units – they are for example, from the Kemerovo region of Siberia, and from Dagestan.”

The downing of Malaysian flight MH17  from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur by a BUK missile in July 2014 caused a major international scandal. 

Russia denied responsibility but Western investigators found Moscow had provided the BUK system that blew the passenger plane out of the sky. 

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