Tensions are rising on the borders of Russia and Ukraine. Even a US defense official said more than 40 percent of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border were now in a position to strike and Moscow had begun a destabilizing campaign. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the US had observed significant movement near the Ukrainian border since last Wednesday (16/2).
The United States estimates that Russia has more than 150,000 troops stationed near the Ukrainian border. These tactical position points are areas near the border that were set up to house military units before launching attacks.
The US official said Moscow had assembled 125 battalions of tactical groups near the Ukrainian border. This number increased from the previous 60 battalions of tactical groups at normal times and up from 80 battalions in early February.
In addition, clashes between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian troops in the east are also increasing. According to the US official, the situation indicates that a “destabilization campaign has begun”. For weeks, Washington has been warning that Russia could provoke or fabricate incidents in the area to serve as a pretext for attacking Ukraine.
Moscow has denied it has any plans to attack its western neighbour. However, Moscow has also demanded guarantees that Ukraine will never join NATO and demanded that NATO withdraw troops from Eastern Europe, demands Western countries have rejected.
In contrast, US President Joe Biden on Friday (18/2) local time said he believed that Russian President Vladimir Putin had decided to attack Ukraine within a week. Biden said the attack could come in the coming weeks or days and targets would include Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, which has a population of about 2.8 million people.