Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has claimed that Russia amassed nearly 100,000 troops near his country’s border as concerns over an invasion continue to mount.
Zelenskyy said that the action made it clear to the world “who really wants peace and who is concentrating nearly 100,000 soldiers at our border” during a speech broadcast Wednesday on his website.
Russia has dismissed any suggestions of an attack as inflammatory, instead complaining about increased activity by NATO in the region, Reuters reported.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy holds a bullet as he addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Richard Drew) (AP Photo/Richard Drew))
American officials consulted European allies on the situation, warning that Russia could attempt to invade the country in the near future.
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On Thursday, Russia claimed one of its fighter jets forced a British spy plane to change course after flying near Crimea, The Independent reported.
Lt Gen Ret US Army Ben Hodges delivers a speech at the Lviv Security Forum 2018, Lviv, western Ukraine, October 25, 2018. Ukrinform. (Photo credit should read MARKIIAN LYSEIKO / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Satellite images released Nov. 8 showed an estimated 90,000 Russian troops gathered at the Ukrainian border, prompting House Republicans to petition President Biden to deploy troops to the region. Retired Lieutenant General Ben Hodges told Fox News correspondent Jacqui Heinrich that Russia’s recent movements are a continuation of “what started back in April.”
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“They never really went back to their barracks, even though the Minister of Defense [Sergey] Shoigu said they were,” Hodges claimed, describing the new movement as “the next phase.”
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba (not pictured) hold a news conference following the U.S.-Ukraine Strategic Dialogue talks at the State Department in Washington, U.S., November 10, 2021. REUTERS/Leah Millis/Pool
He cautioned that Russia’s first move would not be a tank or a gunshot, but a cyber strike or “maybe turning off the gas or something” to create disruption.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken briefly discussed the situation at the Ukrainian border during a joint strategic dialogue last week, warning that Russia needs to avoid making “a serious mistake.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting with hight level officers and heads of defense industry enterprises in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Monday, Nov. 1, 2021. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday emphasized the need to strengthen the country’s air defenses in the face of NATO’s moves. (Evgeniy Paulin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
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“We’re very concerned about some of the irregular movements of forces that we see on Ukraine’s borders,” Blinken said Friday. “I can’t speak to Russia’s intentions. We don’t know what they are, but we do know that we’ve seen in the past Russia mass forces on Ukraine’s borders.”
Blinken warned that Russia could claim “some kind of provocation” and then invade, following a plan that led them to establish control of Crimea in 2014. The U.S. remains in ” consultation” with its European allies as it continues to monitor the situation.
“I can just say that based on the past, we have real concerns about what we’re seeing in the present,” Blinken explained. “And it would be a serious mistake for Russia to engage in a repeat of what it did in 2014.”
Peter Aitken is a New York born-and-raised reporter with a focus on national and global news.