The top investigative body in Russia is looking at whether the SAS is “organising sabotage” in Ukraine.
The Investigative Committee – Moscow’s main federal investigating authority – said it would be following up a report from Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency.
RIA quoted a Russian security source as saying about 20 members of the SAS had been deployed in the western Lviv region, close to the border with Poland.
The Investigative Committee said it would look at whether – according to the report – the SAS had been sent in to “assist the Ukrainian special services in organising sabotage on the territory of Ukraine”.
The possible presence of British special forces – from a NATO country – is significant, given that Moscow has warned the West not to get in the way of what it calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Other key developments:
• President Zelenskyy says he will meet United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Kyiv tomorrow
• Boris Johnson speaks to Mr Zelenskyy about ‘new phase’ of military aid including heavy weapons
• British intelligence suggests Russia has made no major gains in the last 24 hours
• Attempt to evacuate civilians from Mariupol fails
• Satellite images appear to reveal mass grave outside Mariupol
A week before the Russian invasion began, the British government said it had pulled all its troops out of Ukraine, except those needed to protect its ambassador.
UK personnel had been training local troops to use anti-tank weapons.
The temporarily closed Kyiv embassy will reopen next week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced.
Information on the SAS – the Special Air service – is often highly classified. Its operations include direct action and covert reconnaissance.
A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: “We do not comment on special forces.”
A defence source said: “We don’t comment on stories around special forces, especially ones that are being pushed out by the Russian news agencies, because inaccurate speculation can put people’s lives at risk, which is why we neither confirm nor deny reports.”
Zelenskyy not afraid to meet Putin
In a news conference in Kyiv, Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he has “no right to be afraid” of meeting the Russian president “because our people have shown they have no fear”.
He spoke in an underground station and had to stop at one stage to allow a train to pass.
The war can only be stopped by those who started it, he told reporters.
He wants to end the conflict and any “healthy person would choose the diplomatic way” over a military way.
He does not fear for his life but his family are concerned, he added.
Missile strikes on Odesa
At least five people were killed, including a three-month-old baby, following missile strikes in the southwestern port city on Saturday afternoon, Ukrainian officials said.
A further 18 people were injured, they added.
Missiles are said to have struck a military facility and two residential buildings in the city.
Russian forces fired at least six cruise missiles, but most were shot down by Ukrainian forces, the officials said.
The Russian defence ministry said it had used high precision missiles to destroy a logistics terminal where a large
number of weapons supplied by the United States and European nations were being stored.
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