(PatrioticPost.com)- Russian troops are flocking to the country’s border with eastern Ukraine. There are “tens of thousands” of troops there now, according to reports, and that’s concerning officials in the United States and across the world.
After landing at the headquarters of NATO in Belgium, Antony Blinken, the U.S. Secretary of State, said:
“We’re now seeing the largest concentration of Russian forces on Ukraine’s borders since 2014. That is a deep concern not only to Ukraine, but to the United States.”
The build-up of Russian troops there led to a call between President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin. On that call, Biden declared America’s “unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” He also “called on Russia to de-escalate tensions.”
Many officials in the West are now trying to determine whether Putin is just putting Biden’s mettle to the test, or whether Russia is actually planning a new military conflict.
As the senior research scientists at the Virginia research group CAN, Michael Kofman, explained:
“The optimistic assessment is that this is meant to intimidate Ukraine. The pessimistic assessment, which I think is a lower probability but nonetheless very worth considering, is that Russia is actually spoiling for a fight and that they’re looking to bait Ukraine into a miscalculation.”
Since 2014, the two countries have been involved in a conflict. That started when Russia annexed the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine, and then began supporting people known as “separatists” in Ukraine’s eastern part of the country. While there have been multiple ceasefires since then, the conflict overall has cost 14,000 people their lives.
A spokeswoman for Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Iuliia Mendel, said there are roughly 40,000 Russian troops in Crimea and then another 40,000 troops in regions along the Ukraine border.
If that is true, that would make up “approximately 10% of the Russian military’s total manpower,” said Rob Lee, a former Marine who tracks military deployments for the Department of War Studies at King’s College London.
Russia has said that the troops are just going through “training missions,” as Sergei Shoigu, the country’s defense minister, said earlier this week. But others are saying that the movements the military is currently taking don’t fit in with normal training patterns.
As Lee said:
“They are deliberately leaving their intentions ambiguous here.”
The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has picked up recently, with more than 30 soldiers from Ukraine killed in 2021 already. There were 49 killed in total all of last year.
That, combined with Russia’s recent movements, forced the U.S. European Command to raise is threat level to the highest it can, as the New York Times reported. They are also planning to send two different warships to the Black Sea, as Turkey reported recently. Turkey controls passage into the Black Sea.
John Kirby, a spokesman for the Pentagon, declined to comment at recent briefings on both of those topics. However, Blinken told NBC News on “Meet the Press” Sunday that:
“If Russia acts recklessly, there will be consequences.”