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Satellite imagery shows an alarming increase in the Russian military in Crimea within 124 miles (200 km) of the Ukrainian border. Although numbers vary, a new assessment estimates 265,000 troops are readying for war, according to Ukrainian Secretary of National Security and Defense Council Pleksiy Danilov earlier this week.
Vladamir Putin’s deployment of troops to the north, east, and south of the Ukraine further fuels concern that Moscow is planning an attack. However, the country’s president-for-life denies invasion plans.
Instead, he demands promises from the U.S., other western nations, and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) not to expand its alliance toward Russian borders. Putin insists his country’s security is threatened due to the growing coalition between Ukraine and the West.
Moscow’s foreign ministry presented security demands in its attempt to curb the United States and NATO’s influence on Russian borders. Putin demands North Atlantic Alliance halt its eastward expansion and that the organization block U.S. ties with former Soviet states.
During a 4-hour news conference on Dec. 23, 2021, Putin blamed the West for tensions on the Ukrainian border. He used the annual conference to convince Russians of the urgent security threat to Moscow from Kyiv’s growing alliance with the West. Putin claims this could justify military action. However, Russia prefers to resolve tensions through diplomacy rather than fight a war. Speaking to Russian citizens, he said:
We need to think about how Russia is going to live. Are we supposed to always look behind our [shoulders] and wait?
Putin added he expects to be in Geneva sometime in January 2022 to negotiate with a White House Delegation and NATO about Ukraine. In response to questions about the meeting, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed the United States plans to hold talks with Russian leaders.
President Joe Biden’s administration believes that diplomacy is the best and right path forward. In fact, neither the North Atlantic Alliance nor Ukraine is threatening Moscow’s security.
Instead, as Psaki adds, “the only aggression that we are seeing at the border of Russia and Ukraine is the military buildup by the Russians and the bellicose rhetoric from the leader of Russia.”
Level 4 Travel Advisory for Ukraine
The U.S. Department of State continues to warn against travel to Ukraine. The Level 4 do not travel alert remains in place due to COVID-19. However, due to increased Russian military threats, the State Department warns Americans to reconsider traveling to the region. Moreover, the agency advises United States citizens to be aware of reports that Russia is preparing for substantial military activity against Ukraine.
Furthermore, the security conditions are unpredictable and can worsen with little notice, specifically along Ukraine’s borders in Russia-occupied Crimea, and in Russia-controlled Ukraine. If tensions escalate, it would severely impact the U.S. Embassy’s ability to assist United States citizens.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
U.S. Embassy in Ukraine: Level 4: Do Not Travel
ABC News Australia: Satellite images show Russian military build-up near Ukraine borders
Ukrinform: Russia amasses about 52 battalion tactical groups near Ukraine’s border
The Drive: Russian Air Defense Missile Systems Spotted Moving Closer To Ukraine; by Thomas Newdick
American Military News: Report: Russia now has 265,000 troops near Ukraine border; by Ryan Morgan
The Washington Post: Amid fears Russia will invade Ukraine, Putin points finger at U.S. and NATO in marathon news conference; by Isabelle Khurshudyan, Mary Ilyushina, and Paul Sonne
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Dmitry Terekhov’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image by Serge Serebro/Vitebsk Popular News Courtesy of Wikimedia – Creative Commons License