Russian troop movements near the Ukrainian border have reportedly caused American and European foreign policy and military officials. Russian President Vladimir Putin has also recently declared a “red line” against further NATO military expansions inside Ukraine.
Michael Kofman, director of Russia studies for CNA, told the Washington Post that Russia is not involved in a drill or anything that looks to be a training exercise.
The Russian military has reportedly used trains and truck convoys to move tanks and missiles around southern and western Russia near Ukraine. After recent training exercises, Kofman told the Post that satellite images confirm that Russia’s 41st Combined Arms Army did not return to its Siberian base. It instead joined up with other forces near Ukraine as Russian tank divisions were moving toward the area.
Kofman said that the “Russian tone and messaging on Ukraine has changed dramatically” this year and that Putin is “shifting the goalposts” of acceptable behavior in the region.
The report cited Ukraine’s national security and defense secretary Oleksiy Danilov, reporting that between 80,000 and 90,000 Russian troops have been moved to positions near Ukraine’s border. Tens of thousands more are believed to be stationed nearby in Crimea.
Meanwhile, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is accusing Ukraine of planning a forceful action to retake possession of the Donbas region claimed by Russia.
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenskiy said Friday that his country is not preparing any offensive moves but is responding by preparing defensive forces. He said that the Ukrainian army would act under the principle of defending its land.
The country’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that Ukraine had not prepared any “offensive in the Donbas,” adding that Russia is spreading “fakes about Ukraine” and “other nonsense” regarding a Donbas offensive.
The United States stated the situation in the region, providing that Russia’s “rhetoric” about Ukraine’s operations in the region are “misleading” and serve to “escalate tensions.”