CHILLING images are said to show nuclear cannon being sent to Russia's border with Ukraine as renewed conflict threatens to erupt into all-out war.
At least six 2S4 Tyulpan self-propelled mortars – capable of firing warheads 12 miles – were filmed on a flatbed train in southwest Russia on Tuesday.
They were filmed as the train paused at Kropotkin station in Krasnodar, near annexed Crimea and the rebel-held Donetsk region of Ukraine.
The Tyulpan – codenamed M-1975 in the West – is an upgraded version of a Soviet-era self-propelled 240mm mortar.
The large bore means it can fire a range of projectiles including high-explosive and incendiary shells, the laser-guided Daredevil round, and even nuclear warheads.
Dubbed the "city destroyer", it is the largest mortar system in the world and has been used to demolish fortifications from Chechnya to Afghanistan.
The deployment comes after Russia sent 4,000 soldiers plus convoys of tanks and armoured troop carriers to the border last week.
The Kremlin is also said to have deployed anti-aircraft missiles as fears grow of an invasion.
Today Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelensky visited the front line in Donetsk after a surge in clashes between Russia-backed rebels and government forces.
Intensified skirmishes in recent weeks raised fears of a major escalation in the seven-year conflict over the mainly Russian-speaking Donbas region.
Tensions exploded as Russia warned it will "take extra measures” if Nato sends forces to bolster its ally Ukraine.
And yesterday a Putin ally said on state TV that Russia should considering firing nukes if Nato does not back down in demands to withdraw.
Last week Russian military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer warned the recent escalation could see “war in a month”.
He said: “The crisis has the potential to escalate into a pan-European war, if not even a world one.
“Will it happen or not? Let's wait and see.
“In the West, they don't know what to do about it.”
Asked why Russia may be pushing for a conflict now, he replied: “Address this question to a psychoanalyst. Do I need to explain?”
Russia could be planning a “Normandy-style landing” between Odessa and Mykolaiv, he claimed.
“Obviously, a major operation is being prepared, and other forces will be brought in as well,” he said.
“Everyone is talking about a possible tank invasion from Belgorod through Kharkiv in the direction of Zaporizhia in order to surround Ukrainian forces on the left bank of the Donbass.”
Vladimir Putin invaded and seized control of Crimea after the civil war in eastern Ukraine broke out in 2014.
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.
US President Joe Biden has offered Ukraine “unwavering support”.
Biden made the pledge in a call to President Zelensky on Friday after Kiev accused Moscow of building up military forces on its border.
White House Biden "affirmed the United States' unwavering support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia's ongoing aggression in the Donbas and Crimea".
Zelensky on Twitter said he was "glad" to talk to Biden and hailed Kiev's partnership with Washington as "crucial for Ukrainians".
But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia would take additional measures if the West sent out troops, after claims such a move by Nato would escalate tensions near its borders.
Peskov told reporters: “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.”
He insisted, however, that Russia was “not threatening” Ukraine, despite an earlier statement which warned a war in Donbass would “destroy” its neighbour.
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