Ukrainian intelligence says Russian proxy forces ‘brought to full alert in Donbas’
Russia’s proxy forces in the occupied parts of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts have been ordered to full alert, with Russian regular army formations continuing to mass on Ukraine’s borders, Ukrainian intelligence officials say.
Russian proxy occupation forces are conducting training to bring artillery and tank units to full alert, with units being ordered to staging areas and command posts being deployed, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s Main Intelligence Directorate reported on Dec. 6-10.
Russian proxy combat units in the occupied parts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts have resumed intense combat training as well, the directorate said.
Meetings with unit commanders, crews of combat vehicles, snipers, and grenade launcher operators are underway, it added.
The reports come after U.S. President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin held video talks on Dec. 7 on Russia’s threatening military buildup on Ukraine’s borders.
Biden said the United States and its European partners were concerned by the buildup, and "made it clear the United States and its allies will respond with decisive economic and other measures in the case of a military escalation."
In response to Biden's warnings, Putin said "responsibility should not be shifted onto the shoulders of Russia." He accused the Western military defense alliance NATO of conducting a "military build-up near the borders of the Russian Federation."
He offered no evidence to support his accusation.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Dec.10 that during their latest conversation Biden had informed him that Russia would not continue escalating the conflict in Ukraine.
Earlier, during a report to the Ukrainian parliament on Dec. 3, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said that Russia had deployed over 94,000 troops to the borders of Ukraine and in the temporarily occupied territories. The troops are on constant alert and may be used to escalate the situation, Reznikov said, also not ruling out a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine.
According to the Head of the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine's Defense Ministry, Kyrylo Budanov, the build-up of Russian troops is expected to continue, and could peak in late January 2022.
The Kremlin has not reacted to claims of a possible invasion, stating the buildup of troops is an internal affair of the Russian Federation. At the same time, Kremlin-controlled media have regularly talked of possible “provocations” by Ukraine, and alleged that Kyiv plans to retake Russian-occupied territories by force.
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