Now Russia Amassing Troops on Border as Well to Preclude Ukraine From Getting Ideas
Ukraine has been building up along rebel Donbass for months
U.S. watching “escalation of armed confrontation” near Ukraine’s border with Russia
The U.S. military believes a buildup of Russian forces near the border with Ukraine, seen as “concerning” on Tuesday, is likely a training exercise. But the gathering of troops comes amid heightened tension in the region, and Ukraine’s Commander-In-Chief Ruslan Khomchack told his country’s parliament this week that Russian forces from different regions had been assembling near the border.
Russia’s president has acknowledged an “escalation of armed confrontation” in the region.
Training exercises were always a possible explanation for the buildup, but a U.S. defense official told CBS News that the locations and types of units seen on the ground didn’t line up with what the Russian Ministry of Defense had announced last month.
In a statement on Facebook on Wednesday, the Russian Ministry of Defense said that at the initiative of the U.S., chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Mark Milley, had a telephone conversation with his counterpart. “Issues of mutual interest were discussed,” the statement said.
Ukraine and Russia have been inin 2014. The U.S. and its NATO allies do not recognize Russia’s annexation of the peninsula, and the U.S contributes millions in both non-military and military aid each year to Ukraine.
Relations between the two countries have been getting worse. Just four days ago, four Ukrainian soldiers were killed by Russian separatist shelling in eastern Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin noted the increase in violence on Tuesday, and blamed Ukrainian forces for it.
An official readout from the Kremlin of a phone call that Putin had with the French and German leaders said he had, “expressed serious concern about the escalation of armed confrontation on the contact line being provoked by Ukraine.”
The U.S. Embassy in Kiev issued a statement last week calling on Russia to “observe ceasefire measures” and “end daily violence that is causing senseless suffering,” and end its aggression in Ukraine.
On Monday, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan spoke with the head of the Ukrainian Presidential Office, Andriy Yermak, and affirmed the U.S.’ ongoing support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and Euro-Atlantic aspirations in the face of continuing aggression, according to a readout from the NSC.
Ukraine Says Russian Military Buildup Threatens Its Security
RUSSIA is building up armed forces near Ukraine’s borders in a threat to the country’s security, Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Ruslan Khomchak said on Tuesday, accusing Moscow of pursuing an “aggressive policy” towards Kyiv.
In remarks to parliament, Khomchak also accused pro-Moscow separatists of systematically violating a ceasefire in the conflict in eastern Ukraine agreed in July 2020.
Ukraine and Russia have traded blame for a spike in violence in the conflict, which Kyiv says has killed 14,000 people since 2014.
Government forces and pro-Russian separatists accuse each other of breaching the ceasefire, and lawmakers say 26 Ukrainian servicemen have been killed so far this year, including four killed by snipers last week.
“The Russian Federation continues its aggressive policy towards Ukraine,” Khomchak told parliament.
Khomchak said Russian troops from different regions had been assembling near the borders of Ukraine under the guise of maintaining combat readiness and preparing for exercises, “carring out a gradual build-up of troops near the state border of Ukraine”.
“An additional concentration of up to 25 tactical groups is expected, which, together with the already deployed forces near the state border of Ukraine, poses a threat to the military security of the state,” Khomchak said.
He added that Moscow holds 32,700 troops in Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014, while its officers command 28,000 separatist servicemen stationed in temporarily occupied territories in eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine, Western countries and NATO accuse Russia of sending troops and heavy weapons to prop up separatists. Moscow says it only provides political and humanitarian support to the rebels and says Russians fighting in Ukraine are volunteers.