Last week, the United States shared new intelligence with European allies about a Russian troop build-up on the border with Ukraine. This allows Russia to quickly invade that Eastern European country if President Vladimir Putin orders it, insiders say to Bloomberg news agency.
According to shared information, Russian troops could enter Ukraine via the Crimean peninsula, neighbouring Belarus and from Russia itself. An army that may consist of about 100,000 men can be deployed. In addition, according to the sources, tens of thousands of reservists have also been mobilized. That has not been announced publicly by Russia.
Russia and Ukraine have had tense relations for years. Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014 and supported armed separatists in eastern Ukraine. The Kyiv government, meanwhile, is seeking support from the West. Ukraine’s defence minister last week asked the US for help in defending his country’s coast and airspace.
It is unclear whether the Russian troop build-up means that a new armed conflict is inevitable. Putin has probably not yet decided exactly what he wants to do, according to the insiders. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said earlier this month: “I can’t say what Russia’s intentions are. We don’t know them.”
Russia blames the West for mounting tensions. A Kremlin spokesman said on Sunday that “hysteria” would be deliberately created by pointing to Russian military activity in the border area.
“Those who accuse us of unusual military activities on our own territory are sending their troops across the ocean themselves. And I’m talking about the United States,” the Russian government spokesman said on television. “That’s not very logical or decent.”