Last week, the United States shared new intelligence with European allies about the reinforcement of Russian forces on the border with Ukraine. This gives Russia the opportunity to quickly invade that country in Eastern Europe if President Vladimir Putin orders it, insiders tell Bloomberg News.
According to joint information, Russian forces can enter Ukraine through the Crimea, which is adjacent to Belarus, and from Russia itself. An army of about 100,000 men could be deployed. In addition, according to sources, tens of thousands of reservists have been mobilized. Russia did not announce it publicly.
Relations between Russia and Ukraine have been tense for years. Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in 2014 and supports armed separatists in eastern Ukraine. Meanwhile, the Kiev government is seeking the support of the West. Last week, Ukraine’s defense minister asked the United States to help defend his country’s coasts and airspace.
It is unclear whether the reinforcement of Russian forces means that a new armed conflict is inevitable. According to insiders, Putin may not yet decide exactly what he wants to do. “I can’t say what Russia’s intentions are. We don’t know,” US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said earlier this month.
Russia blames the West for escalating tensions. A Kremlin spokesman said on Sunday that “hysteria” would be deliberately created with reference to Russian military activity in the border area.
“Those who accuse us of extraordinary military activities on our territory are sending their own forces across the ocean. I am talking about the United States,” a Russian government spokesman said on television. “This is not logical or appropriate.”
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