Russia positions more troops and supply lines as fears of a possible invasion of Ukraine mount

The new details on Russian rearmament underscore the increased concern of US officials about the movements. According to a source familiar with the matter, the equipment currently stationed in the region could supply frontline forces for seven to ten days and other support units for up to a month.

Illinois Democratic MP Mike Quigley, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN that he believes Russia is able to invade “if they want,” adding that “Russia’s capabilities are equivalent to a modern blitzkrieg.” would”.

A senior administrative official told CNN that the US “has seen additional Russian troops in the border region in the past few days,” but the source declined to provide the exact number of troops.

It is still unclear whether Russian President Vladimir Putin intends to invade or whether the armament is a game of brinkmanship to get concessions from the West, officials said. But the apparent military readiness has alarmed Western officials, who say Russia is positioning itself to launch an attack on very short notice.

“We do not know whether President Putin made the decision to invade. We know that he will create the capacity for it in the short term if he decides,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters in Latvia on Wednesday. “We have to prepare for all eventualities.”

A senior Western intelligence official similarly said Russia was trying to “prepare the ground for a fairly large-scale operation in Ukraine” to force Kiev from drifting into Western European and NATO orbit.

In the last few days Russia has denied attacking Ukraine, but has also demanded security guarantees from the West, such as a promise not to admit Ukraine into NATO.

“So if NATO still refuses to discuss this issue, or the guarantees or ideas of Russian President Vladimir Putin, we will of course take steps to ensure that our security, sovereignty and territorial integrity do not depend on others. ” “, Said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday.

The US is still considering what kind of military aid to send to Ukraine in view of the Russian armament.

Ukraine will put new US-supplied military patrol boats into service in the coming days to reinforce its missions in the Black Sea, according to two people familiar with the matter. The US is planning to send more anti-tank weapons like Javelin missiles, but has for the time being refrained from providing Ukraine with surface-to-air missiles like Stingers, which Russia would see as provocative.

The US and its allies in Europe and NATO have warned Russia against severe economic sanctions should it invade Ukraine.

But Western officials are reluctant to get involved in a direct military conflict with Russia, which Moscow understands, the senior Western intelligence official said.

“When you are threatening violence and keeping your troops in the field and the interventions by the West, political and military, are mild or nonexistent, you are encouraged,” said this official. “In general, I think the goal here is to make it clear, ‘I am ready to take this huge risk and use violence and I bet you are not ready to get involved with me and lose a life.’ “

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi says a group of Russians and Ukrainians are planning a coup against him
Western officials are pushing for a diplomatic solution that they hope will de-escalate tensions – notably the full implementation of the Minsk Accords, a ceasefire protocol signed by Ukraine and Russia in 2015.

“Tango takes two, and if … our Russian friends are ready to implement their commitments under Minsk, and so are our Ukrainian friends, we will fully support that, and that is the best way to resolve another crisis in Ukraine. ” “Said Blinken on Thursday.

Critics have called the Minsk Accords disproportionately beneficial for Moscow. But the US is urging Kiev and Moscow to implement their terms, including constitutional amendments by Ukraine that would give autonomy to the separatist-led eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk. The city has been a major battleground between Ukrainian and pro-Russian forces for more than seven years, and some Biden government officials believe that if Ukraine acts against Minsk first, Russia should be responsible for the de-escalation.

But Ukrainian officials rejected such a request, arguing that the Minsk agreements do not require such constitutional amendments, said people familiar with the discussions. Russia also has yet to implement several of the Minsk provisions, including a ceasefire, the withdrawal of all heavy weapons from the line of contact in eastern Ukraine and a political prisoner exchange for all, as Blinken outlined on Thursday.

“And just as we made it clear to Moscow, we also call on Ukraine to continue to exercise restraint,” said Blinken. “Because the Russian playbook claims a provocation for something they had planned all along.”

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