Russia’s buildup of an estimated 100,000 troops along its border with Ukraine, along with military exercises in Belarus, has raised concern that Russia could be planning an invasion of Ukraine. Russia’s positions include troops, tanks and artillery to Ukraine’s north, south and east.
Until 1991, Ukraine was part of the Russia-led Soviet Union. Current tensions with Russia date to 2014, when Russia invaded and seized the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine, a move not recognized by the European Union or United States. Russia has also backed separatists who control a swath of territory bordering Russia in eastern Ukraine.
During talks in Ukraine and Germany this week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned of a swift response from the U.S. and its allies if Russian troops enter Ukraine. Blinken meets Friday in Geneva with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.
Russia has dismissed allegations of a planned invasion and has sought certain security guarantees, including one that NATO members will not admit Ukraine into the Western military alliance. The U.S. and NATO have rejected such requests.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova alleged Thursday that Ukrainian and Western claims of an imminent Russian attack on Ukraine were a “cover for staging large-scale provocations of their own.”
In Germany, Secretary Blinken said, “No one should be surprised if Russia instigates a provocation or incident – then tries to use it to justify military intervention, hoping that by the time the world realizes the ruse, it’ll be too late.”
Some information for this report came from the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.