Pentagon reports increase in number of Russian troops near Ukrainian borders in last few days
The number of Russian troops near the borders of Ukraine has increased over the last few days, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said at a press briefing on Feb. 1, as fears of a further Russian invasion of the country continued.
He also confirmed reports that there were over 100,000 troops flanking Ukraine, pointing out that Russian troop buildup has continued, despite earlier reports of a “partial withdrawal.”
“And as I said earlier, we have continued to see additional forces flow in,” Kirby said.
“I mean, the Secretary (of Defense Lloyd Austin) and Chairman (of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley) talked about this Friday. They characterize it as more than 100,000, and (the Russians) have added to that number over the course of just the last few days.”
At the same time, the Pentagon spokesperson said the United Stated does not consider an invasion of Ukraine to be “imminent”, since Washington believes the Kremlin has not yet made a final decision on whether to use additional military force against Ukraine.
Russia has been massing troops at the Russian-Ukrainian border since late October.
More than 130,000 Russian troops and offensive weapons have been deployed near Ukraine’s borders and in the temporarily occupied territories, according to the latest intelligence estimate from the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.
Both U.S. and European officials have expressed concern over the situation. U.S. President Joe Biden in December declared that the White House was working out “the most comprehensive and meaningful set of initiatives to make it very, very difficult for (Russian President Vladimir) Putin to go ahead and do what people are worried he may do.”
The proposed measures include cutting Russia off from the SWIFT international banking system, personal sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin and his inner circle, and a ban on U.S. dollar transactions with Russia.
On Jan. 14, the U.K.-based Guardian newspaper and the U.S.-based CNN news channel reported that Russia had positioned covert operatives in Ukraine to carry out a “false flag” operation to use as a pretext for a Russian attack.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Jan. 28 that Russia is not interested in a war, but will not allow its “security interests” to be neglected. The Kremlin demands that the United States and NATO guarantee that Ukraine will never join the alliance.
Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Google News