RUSSIA sparked panic by sending fake signals that its warplanes were taking off to attack Ukraine, it was revealed yesterday.
Vladimir Putin’s boffins are believed to have placed military jet radar transponders on trucks and vehicles moving around air bases in a ruse to create alarm.
The trick encouraged Western satellite monitors to believe huge numbers of aircraft were taxiing for take off to blitz Ukraine.
And the deception on Sunday succeeded in ramping up tension further, goading American and British leaders to launch a united show of military force the following day.
Cunning Putin is believed to be encouraging sabre rattling responses by western powers to allow him to suggest they are the aggressors – to give him an excuse to invade.
A military source revealed: “Russian ‘warplanes’ were being monitored by satellites moving around in circles all day, without pause, as if being mobilised.
“It sparked alarm among foreign air forces and Russia experts believe it was a deception ploy to further raise the threat level.”
World War III fears cranked higher yesterday as more troops, arms and missiles continued to pour into Putin ally state Belarus, north of Ukraine.
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Russian forces are massing in the rogue state – with a border 100 miles from Ukraine capital Kiev – despite warnings that the ruthless strongman may face personal finance sanctions.
The Kremlin claims it is staging military manoeuvres from February 10-20 – but the huge influx of men and hardware far exceeds levels for normal war game exercises.
Meanwhile, diplomatic sources in Ukraine revealed that Russian news channels are now “choking” airwaves with fake news suggesting US troops were preparing to attack.