The Russian invasion of Ukraine has sparked a crisis Europe has not seen since the end of World War 2. This morning Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation” to “demilitarise” and “denazify” Ukraine, the product of months of build-up and failed diplomatic talks between the Kremlin and the West.
Russia has advanced on Ukraine in all directions, with airstrikes taking place in major cities, including Kiev.
The action is unprecedented in modern Europe, and Western allies have begun imposing the harshest sanctions possible on Russia in an effort to hamper its finances for the conflict.
But as the situation has developed quickly into a bloody conflict, the prospect of European countries and the USA potentially sending troops in Ukraine is unlikely to be out of the minds of world leaders.
READ MORE: British man’s terror for wife trapped in Ukraine
But war can unravel with breathtaking speed, as recent months and this week has demonstrated.
Former Soviet Union states that now have NATO membership are nervous.
Countries like Latvia, Poland, Estonia and Lithuania all have ethnic Russian minorities, and it cannot be ruled out that President Putin could use the pretext he has used in Ukraine for other European NATO nations.
Under Article 5 of the NATO treaty, all member militaries are obliged to come to the defence of other member states should they come under attack.
Only President Putin and his innermost circle will know how far the planned incursion will go.