The escalation of tension between the United States and Russia continues. Washington believes Moscow is preparing a multi-front invasion of Ukraine “as early as early 2022,” according to a document obtained Friday by The Washington Post. The information has been later corroborated by a White House official, who has also confirmed that the planned contingent will be made up, according to data from the US intelligence service, of “175,000 soldiers, along with tanks, artillery and equipment.” The Russian Foreign Ministry, quoted by the newspaper Kommersant, has denied the content of that document and has accused Washington of trying to aggravate the situation and blaming Moscow.
President Joe Biden assured on Friday night (local time) that he will make it “very, very difficult” for Russia if it aspires to invade Ukraine and that it does not accept “nobody’s red lines”, in reference to the demands of Moscow in the region, raised on Wednesday in Stockholm by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, in a tense meeting with his US counterpart, Antony Blinken.
The Kremlin has been moving troops to the Ukrainian border since spring, ranging from 70,000 troops estimated by Washington to 94,000 managed by Kiev. Moscow makes the end of these maneuvers conditional on obtaining a guarantee that Ukraine will not join NATO. The classified document released this Friday includes satellite photographs and indicates a concentration of military personnel in four different points in the area. It also shows movements registered in the last month. During his visit to Europe this week, Blinken expressed “deep concern about Russia’s plans to launch a new aggression against Ukraine” and threatened severe economic sanctions if they do not give up on those plans.
“I am finalizing what I believe will be the most comprehensive and meaningful set of initiatives to make it very, very difficult for [el presidente ruso, Vladímir] Putin to go ahead and do what we are concerned about him doing, “Biden said at the White House, before leaving for the weekend for Camp David. But he did not elaborate on those initiatives. “We have long been aware of Russia’s actions and I look forward to a long conversation with [su presidente, Vladímir] Putin”.
That meeting is scheduled for next week. The two leaders have held a video conference to address the growing tension in the area, as confirmed by both parties. Yuri Ushakov, the Kremlin’s foreign policy adviser, said that a date has already been agreed, but that it will not be announced until the final details of the negotiations are defined. It will be “very soon,” Blinken said in Stockholm, where he urged Lavrov to withdraw troops from the border with Ukraine and withdraw them to their “peacetime” positions to de-escalate the crisis.
That concentration had already been interpreted by Kiev as a sign that Russia will launch a full-scale attack shortly. “We believe that the most likely time will be at the end of January,” Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov told the national parliament on Friday.
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Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimean territory in 2014 and has since supported separatists in the east of the country and opponents of the Kiev government. The conflict has left more than 13,000 dead.
The Russian Foreign Minister explained in Stockholm on Thursday that he will soon present proposals for a new “security pact in Europe” that would prevent an expansion of NATO to the east and would, in his opinion, put an end to the current crisis. It seeks “long-term security guarantees”, which would include limiting the Western military aid to Kiev and closing the door to a future incorporation of Ukraine into the Atlantic Alliance.
Putin had already warned this week that the deployment of attack weapons in Ukraine (which was interpreted as an allusion to short-range missiles) was a “red line” for his country. On Friday, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told the agency France Presse that Kiev refuses to abandon the aspiration to join NATO, which officially opened its doors to Ukraine in 2008, although no progress has been made since. .
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