(Washington) Russia said on Friday it was preparing for an offensive involving 175,000 troops early next year against Ukraine. Washington Post, Connects with Kiev’s fear of such an event.
Moscow is preparing to launch “100 battalions and tanks, artillery and other equipment made up of tactical teams of 175,000 men,” a senior US official told the US daily anonymously.
When asked by the AFP, the Pentagon declined to comment on intelligence, but said it was “very concerned about the sources of Russia’s plans for aggression against Ukraine.”
“We continue to support tensions in the region and a diplomatic solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine,” said Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Tony Semelroth.
Russian forces with 50 tactical combat units are concentrated in four different locations Washington Post, Citing US military document.
Joe Biden increased pressure on Russia on Friday, saying it was preparing “efforts” to defend Ukraine in the event of an invasion following the deployment of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border.
Ukrainian intelligence services believe that the “longest period” for the completion of Russian preparations for the “big expansion” is the end of January, the Ukrainian Minister of Justice told parliament.
According to him, about 100,000 Russian troops could take part in the possible attack. “The increase is a viable option, but not inevitable. Our task is to prevent it,” he said, adding that Russia had already “begun military exercises near Ukraine” and was “testing its communications”.
“We are deeply concerned about Russia’s plans for a new occupation of Ukraine,” US Secretary of State Anthony Blingen told his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Thursday in Stockholm. The “evidence” of such invasive products is mentioned for the first time.
“If Russia decides to continue on the path of conflict, it could have dire consequences,” he warned after threatening painful sanctions on Wednesday.
Seven years after Russia annexed Crimea and occupied part of eastern Ukraine by pro-Russian separatist forces, the US president and his Russian envoy Vladimir Putin are set to discuss video tensions around Ukraine via video conference soon.