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Threat of Russian Invasion of Ukraine

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Thursday, January 20, 2022
Ukrainian military intelligence has spread information that Russia has almost completed the mobilization of troops in the border area and has deployed more than 127,000 troops. According to the military intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, which was shared exclusively with CNN, Russia may launch an attack at any time.

Russia has deployed troops on the western borders from the central and eastern regions with a long-term perspective. The report says the ground forces of the Russian army units in the direction of Ukraine include 106 000 soldiers, not counting the naval and land components.

“Russia is moving arms supplies to the borders, field hospitals, and security services. Russia supports more than 35,000 insurgents in eastern Ukraine and has about 3,000 of its own military personnel in the rebel territory,” the report said, emphasizing that Russia is trying to divide and weaken the EU and NATO, as well as limit US capabilities on the European continent.

“The possibility of a mass attack by Russia against Ukraine is not the most likely scenario at this stage. At the same time, the European Union is preparing sanctions in the event of an attack,” said EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Joseph Borrell, addressing a joint sitting of the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs, Security and Defense.

Borrell believes there may be another cyberattack on Ukraine as of last week, which was an attempt to destabilize the situation in Ukraine. He expressed readiness to help Kiev on behalf of the EU.

Recall that last week the Pentagon and the White House said that Russia is preparing an excuse for intervention in Ukraine. The US has made clear it is committed to helping Ukraine defend its ‘sovereign territory’. President Biden has threatened Russia's leader with measures ‘like none he's ever seen’ if Ukraine is attacked, while stressing that deployment of US troops unilaterally is ‘not on the table’.

“Russia has the opportunity to attack Ukraine in a very short time,” the US Secretary of State said in Kiev. According to him, the mobilization of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border is taking place without any provocation or reason. Blinken expressed hope that Russia could choose a diplomatic and peaceful path, but also added that it would depend on the decision of Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to the US Secretary of State, he will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on January 21.

For his part, the US Secretary of State noted that resolving the conflict through diplomatic channels is a priority, but if the aggression resumes, it will have serious consequences for Moscow.

According to the Secretary of Defense of the United Kingdom, Ben Wallace, Britain has begun supplying anti-tank weapons to Ukraine to help the country defend itself in the event of an intervention. The first batch of systems has already arrived in Ukraine. In addition, a small group of British servicemen will conduct short-term training in Ukraine as well.

The Secretary of Defense did not specify the amount of the weapon supply, but noted that it is not a strategic weapon and does not pose a threat to Russia. He said the systems supplied are defensive.

Amid growing tensions between NATO and Russia, Canada has also sent a small contingent of special forces to Ukraine. The Canadian government decided to send a special task force to Ukraine after diplomatic talks to prevent an armed conflict in Ukraine stalled last week and Russian forces remained on the Ukrainian border. The Canadian Foreign Minister is on a one-week visit to Ukraine to reaffirm Canada's support for the country's sovereignty.

Still, the West’s biggest tools appear to be sanctions and supporting the Ukrainian military - options could include disconnecting Russia's banking system from the international Swift payment system, preventing the opening of Russia's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in Germany - approval for that is currently being decided by Germany's energy regulator, and measures targeting Russia's RDIF sovereign wealth fund or restrictions on banks converting roubles into foreign currency.

Recall that conflict between rebels and Ukraine's military has continued to this day, although a shaky ceasefire is in place. Russia has offered no proof that it will not invade - or any explanation for the 100,000 troops it has deployed, however after providing Russian passports for 500,000 people, if it does not get what it wants then it could justify any action as protecting its own citizens.

After talks with his US counterpart in Geneva, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister insisted there were ‘no plans, no intentions to attack Ukraine’. However, President Putin has spoken of ‘appropriate retaliatory military-technical measures’ if what he calls the West's aggressive approach continues.