Ukraine: Russia Has 72 BTGs in Place and Would Need Another Month of Building Up to Strike
Will hold its own military drills from February 10 to 20
Ukraine’s defense minister has said that Russian capabilities are still a month away from where they would need to be to allow Moscow to launch an offensive.
Ukrainians also estimate that the Russians currently have 72 battalion tactical groups in the vicinity, and 140,000 troops including the forces belonging to the two rebel Donbass republics.
🇺🇦Ukraine’s Defense Minister: Russia has not formed a strike group to actually invade Ukraine, but it would require up to a month to do so. It now has 72 battalion tactical groups.
Also, we’re going to have major military drills across the country between Feb. 10 and 20.
— Illia Ponomarenko (@IAPonomarenko) February 8, 2022
“As of today, there is a ground component of 119,000 soldiers along all borders of Ukraine from the direction of the Russian Federation, the Republic of Belarus, and the temporarily occupied territories. If we add the air and sea components, there will be 140,000 troops. These are 72 battalion tactical groups, 11 of which are stationed in the Republic of Belarus. These are objective facts,” Minister of Defense of Ukraine Oleksii Reznikov said on the air of ICTV channel on February 7.
So then Ukrainians aren’t quite as worried as the Americans. They believe that at the very least they still have a little bit of time. However, at least they are finally contributing to the discussion and putting their own figures and estimates on the table. A big difference from just a day before when Zelensky’s adviser was saying that a “diplomatic solution” (from which process???) was still more likely than not, and claimed that the present Russian buildup was no more serious than the one last March-April which is to deny basic observable reality.
Ukrainians also say they will conduct their own military drills from February 10 to 20. This will improve their readiness but also give Russian satellites something to look at. Perhaps drills will also be used to disperse and relocate the most valuable assets like long-range artillery and anti-air systems, so as to avoid losing them in the first few hours in the case that Russians already have their GPS coordinates marked. (The way Armenians lost half of their anti-air and artillery in the first few hours in Nagorno-Karabakh.)
The Russians for their part have closed off huge parts of the Black Sea just off the Ukrainian coast until February 19th for naval missile drills. So then Ukraine will soon be sandwiched between Russian drills in Belarus, and Russian drills in the Black Sea. Clearly, there is at the very least some kind of demonstrative Russian military activity going on if not preparations for a live offensive.
Possibly the Russians view it as an escalatory ladder where the designed-to-be-seen accumulation of force of last spring that was conducted with no operational security, almost as a parade, was first rung. The present much more deliberate and covert buildup along with the “exercise sandwich” is rung two. What is rung three and whether they’re willing to go there if they don’t get assurances on Ukraine soon is something only they know.