Will Russia invade Ukraine?

| SamvadaWorld Staff

Ukrainian officials believe that a Russian military buildup near its borders could signal plans by Moscow to invade.

After Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, the Kremlin threw its weight behind a separatist insurgency that broke out in Ukraine’s east. Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of sending its troops and weapons to back the rebels, a charge Moscow denies. More than 14,000 people have died in the fighting that devastated Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland known as Donbas.

Earlier this month, Ukraine complained that Moscow has kept about 90,000 troops near its border following massive war games in western Russia. Ukraine also accuses Russia of having about 2,100 military personnel in the rebel-controlled east and that Russian officers hold commanding positions in the separatist forces.

Kyrylo Budanov, head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, claimed that Moscow was preparing an attack from several directions including from Belarus. Budanov says that Russia could invade Ukraine in late January or early February with support from the separatists.

Russia accuses Ukraine of failing to honor the 2015 peace deal and criticized the West for failing to encourage Ukrainian compliance. Ukraine, in turn, has pointed to cease-fire violations by Russia-backed separatists and the continuing Russian troops presence in the rebel east.

Putin had warned that a military attempt by Ukraine to reclaim the rebel east would have “grave consequences for the Ukrainian statehood.” The US has said that Russia is building up forces near the border and will then invade, “claiming falsely that it was provoked.”

Russia denies such intentions and has accused Ukraine and its Western allies of making the claims to cover up their own aggressive designs. Experts say that the troop buildup is an attempt by Putin to persuade the U.S. and its NATO allies to refrain from sending soldiers and weapons to Ukraine.

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