The United States has pledged to help Ukraine bolster its border security as tensions continue to escalate with Russia and Belarus.
The Ukrainian border service estimates that the project will cost around $20 million due to the purchase of recording systems and drones, as well as personal protective equipment for border guards, Reuters reported.
And Stars and Stripes reported that the U.S. flew two Air Force spy planes over the country’s eastern border this week ahead of a second conversation between President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin – the first time any such flight has operated in Ukrainian airspace.
Satellite imagery released Nov. 8 showed Russia massing around 90,000 troops near Ukraine’s border, prompting movement among NATO allies to prepare for a possible invasion. That number rose to 100,000 within a week.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned that Russia would face “massive consequences” if it did carry out an invasion similar to 2014 seizure of Crimea.
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“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.”
Putin accused the U.S. and its NATO allies of whipping up hysteria over the issue and creating tension through their own troop movements. He demanded NATO provide assurances that should the Ukraine join the organization, NATO will not establish “bases and strike weapons systems” in Ukraine to threaten Russia.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy takes part at a commemoration ceremony at a monument of Heroes of Heavenly Hundred, activists who were killed during the anti-government protest the Euro Maidan revolution in 2014, in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Nov. 21, 2021. (Photo by STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
“It presents an ultimate threat to Russia because the flight time of missile strikes will be reduced to seven to 10 minutes, and it’s simply not enough time to react,” former Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) intelligence officer for Russian doctrine and strategy, Rebekah Koffler, told Fox News.
And the heightened border security would strengthen Ukraine against issues with Belarus, which saw the Belarusian defense ministry on Dec. 5 summon the Ukrainian military attaché over possible “repeated violations” of Belarusian airspace.
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“The military attaché was informed that the Ukrainian side is avoiding a dialogue to resolve disputes … which is very worrying,” the ministry said.
Experts have suspected coordination from Moscow as part of a strategy to increase tensions in the region and distract from Russian activities near Ukraine.
“These are manufactured events through strategic manipulation over a long period of time to create the conditions in which opportunities to make it even more unstable arise,” Michael Ryan, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for European and NATO Policy, told Fox News. “And some of the tools have proven to be very effective because they do create such an emotional response in Europe — migration being one of them.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses an extended meeting of the Russian Defense Ministry Board at the National Defense Control Center in Moscow, Russia, Dec. 21, 2021. (Mikhail Tereshchenko, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Some critics say Biden is paying too much attention to what happens overseas and not enough attention to the borders of his own country.
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Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., said Americans should focus more on the southern border than the border between Russia and Ukraine.
“Instead of being the police force of the world, some people who want to say, ‘Oh my goodness, well you know what, there’s this terrible border crisis going on in Ukraine and Russia, Vladimir Putin, blah blah,'” Cawthorn said during his speech at Turning Point USA’s AmericaFest in Phoenix. “I don’t care. I really don’t.”
“I love Eastern Europe, I’m sure it’s a great place, but until we get our own southern border secured, I don’t give a damn about the border conflict in Ukraine,” he added.
The State Department did not respond to a Fox News request for comment.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw, Kyle Morris and Caitlin McFall contributed to this report.
Peter Aitken is a New York born-and-raised reporter with a focus on national and global news.