Russia’s approach to Ukraine is ‘dangerous’ says Nuland
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Western reports suggest around 100,000 Russian troops are currently gathered on the Ukraine border. Thanks to the build-up of its military, a “devastating” attack could now be launched “at little to no notice”.
Intelligence service Dragonfly said an invasion does not now look “imminent”, but could be sprung with very little warning.
Hugo Crosthwaite, lead analyst for Eurasia at the firm, said: “A Russian invasion of Ukraine is a likely scenario in the coming weeks.
“There have been several military and diplomatic developments that point to a sustained severe interstate conflict risk, including Russian troops deploying to Belarus and further efforts by the Kremlin to create a pretext for an attack.”
Dragonfly added that efforts to deter the Kremlin from launching an attack “appear to have failed”.
In particular, threatened sanctions – including from the US – “have had little impact”, with Russia having “sanction-proofed” its economy.
Mr Crosthwaite added: “Rhetoric from the Kremlin has become more belligerent, including unevidenced accusations that the US is training ‘anti-Russia’ units and Ukraine is preparing to attack separatist forces in Donbas – a tactic the Kremlin used in 2014 to justify its annexation of Crimea.”
The only area Dragonfly officials said Ukraine could feel safe is that Russian forces would likely not attack its capital, Kiev– “either via ground assault or air and missiles”.
They added that Mr Putin’s main goal, if an attack were launched, would be for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to “resign quickly” and to receive concessions from NATO.
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Reports earlier this month suggested that invasion plans – if they had been brewing – were held off over the winter due to it having been warmer than usual.
US officials told the New York Times that so long as the ground around the Ukraine border remains muddy, an attack will be held off.
This pushed Joe Biden to recruit a team of meteorologists to keep tabs on the likely weather in the region over the coming weeks.
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But during diplomatic talks in Geneva on January 10, Russia insisted it had “no plans, no intentions” to attack Ukraine.
It also doubled down on its insistence that NATO does not ally with Ukraine.
But the US said it would not be pushed around on the issue.
US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said: “We will not allow anyone to slam closed Nato’s open-door policy, which has always been central to the NATO alliance.”
While discussions were described as “frank and forthright”, no breakthrough was reached.
Ukrainian Defense Ministry told CNN earlier this week that Russia has “almost completed” its build-up of forces that could be used for an attack.
It added that the Kremlin’s actions are also “aimed at limiting the capabilities of the US… to ensure security on the European continent”.
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