Ukraine: US pledges support as Russian troops mass at border
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Fears are growing in Ukraine that Russia is mounting up to launch a full-scale invasion of the country in early 2022. The two eastern European nations have been in conflict since 2014, following Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Now, Ukraine’s military is concerned Russia has ambitions to invade the entire country within the coming months.
Ukraine’s Head of Defence Intelligence Agency, Kyrylo Budanov, believes Russia will enact a comprehensive invasion of Ukraine by early 2022.
If Russia were to attack Ukraine, it would be far more devastating than anything that the Russia-Ukraine conflict has thrown up so far, Mr Budanov told Military Times.
He believed that a Russian invasion would likely involve airstrikes, artillery and armour attacks, followed by airborne assaults in the east, amphibious assaults in Odessa and Mariupol, and a smaller incursion through neighbouring Belarus.
Mr Budanov claimed the attack would take place by the end of January or the beginning of February.
Last week, Ukraine’s Defence Ministry estimated that there were more than 90,000 Russian soldiers stationed near the Russia-Ukraine border and in rebel controlled areas, in eastern Ukraine.
Mr Budanov added that he believes any attack will be preceded by a series of psychological operations aimed at destabilising Ukraine and its ability to defend itself.
He said: “They want to foment unrest, through protests and meetings, that show the people are against the government.”
Examples, cited by Mr Budanov, include ongoing anti-Covid vaccination protests, which he says Russia are organising to stoke unrest in Ukraine.
The ongoing border dispute between Poland and Belarus is another instance, according to Mr Budanov, of how Russia is attempting to influence the opinions of Ukrainians.
He said: “They want to make the situation inside the country more and more dangerous and hard and make a situation where we have to change the government.
“If they can’t do that, then military troops will do their job.”
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Russia has yet to comment on the alleged build-up of forces or comments made by Mr Budanov.
Earlier this year, a concentrated build-up of Russian soldiers, on the Ukrainian border, raised fears that the conflict could be about to escalate in the region.
However, Russia stated the troops were part of military exercises in response to security threats posed by the deployment of NATO forces near to Russia.
Russia-Ukraine conflict in brief
Russia and Ukraine have effectively been at war since 2014. This follows the annexation of the then southern Ukrainian region of Crimea, by Russia, in March of that year.
Soon afterwards, armed rebels in the mostly Russian-speaking regions of eastern Ukraine – Donetsk and Luhansk – rose up and began seizing territory.
Russia has been accused, by Ukraine and the West, of supporting these rebel groups with soldiers and weapons.
To date the conflict is thought to have killed more than 14,000 people.
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