LONDON (AFP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin is highly likely to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine and attack Kyiv, UK Foreign Minister Liz Truss said on Wednesday (Feb 23).
The UK and US have repeatedly in the last few weeks cited intelligence as indicating that Russia is planning an invasion of Ukraine.
"We think it's highly likely that he (Putin) will follow through on his plan for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine," Ms Truss told Sky News.
Asked if the Russian leader would move on the capital Kyiv, she said: "We think it's highly likely that that is in his plans."
While Mr Putin has said he is sending troops, "we don't yet have the full evidence that that has taken place", Ms Truss said, calling the current situation "ambiguous".
Ms Truss held frosty talks earlier this month with her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday announced the first tranche of UK sanctions targeting five Russian banks and three billionaire oligarchs.
Ms Truss said on Wednesday that the UK needed to "retain some sanctions in the locker" and had "more individuals that we will target in the event of a full-scale invasion".
The UK is ready to guarantee up to US$500 million (S$672.45 million) in loans to Ukraine to promote economic stability and reforms, her department said separately.
"These guarantees can help inject vital capital into Ukraine and help its economy weather the storm of Russian aggression," Ms Truss said, stressing that Britain was "four-square behind Ukraine and its people".
The UK government stands ready to offer Ukraine "direct economic support, providing defensive weapons" as well as "exposing Russian attempts to engineer fake pretexts for invasion", she added.
In December, the UK government increased the amount of financial support available to Ukraine to £3.5 billion (S$6.40 billion) and signed a treaty on modernising Ukraine's navy.
Earlier this month, it announced £100 million in extra assistance to Ukraine to be provided over three years to help the ex-Soviet country boost its economy and reduce its dependency on energy imports.