While the migrant crisis on the Poland-Belarus frontier appears to be dying down, the United States and other NATO allies are expressing serious concern about the Russian military buildup along the border with Ukraine. In Kiev, the Ukrainian government is going one step farther. The chief of Ukraine’s defense intelligence agency told The Military Times earlier this weekend that Russia appears to be preparing for an attack by early February. He also estimated there are 90,000 Russian troops in close proximity to the border, with more expected to begin arriving in the coming weeks.
Moscow’s response has been predictable, leveling accusations at the US for creating ‘hysteria’ over a possible invasion of Ukraine by early 2022. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Sunday led the Russian charge with comments on state television. “This hysteria is being whipped up artificially. Those who have brought their armed forces from overseas are accusing us of unusual military activity on our own territory. That is, the United States.”
There’s little doubt that Russia has a plan in mind. Whether it includes a major military offensive against Ukraine remains to be seen. The US is correct in drawing attention to the military buildup near the Russian-Ukraine border. Back in April when the major exercises in the border area concluded, Russian troops withdrew. Yet the majority of their combat equipment remained there. In the months since, a series of ad hoc prepositioning sites have been set up at several points within 100 kilometers of the border. These sites allow Russia to rapidly move troops to the area, mate up with the equipment and deploy to the border. Surprisingly, most Western military analysts have discounted the value behind this Russian move. US intelligence has hopefully not made the same mistake. The tanks, artillery pieces and equipment is in place and ready for action. Now Russian troops are coming back into the equation.
It will be an interesting next 2-3 months ahead.