Up to 800 Russian officers permanently deployed in Donbas, Ukrainian intelligence says
Some 800 top Russian army officers and generals are believed to be permanently deployed in the occupied territories of Luhansk and Donetsk Oblasts, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s Main Intelligence Directorate said in a report on Dec. 20.
The Russian army officers’ time in Ukraine is often followed by official recognition by the Russian Federation, including state honors and promotions.
General Sergei Kuzovlev, for example, who formed the 2nd army corps of the so-called Luhansk People’s Republic, part of the Donbas region currently out of Ukrainian government control, now serves as the deputy commander of Russia’s Southern Military District.
The corps headquarters and the command of brigades and regiments are now staffed by officers of the Russian armed forces, the intelligence directorate said.
In October and November 2021, Russia carried out a rotation of its top commanders in the Donbas region. Commanders of certain brigades were also replaced.
Threat of Russian invasion
About 100,000 Russian soldiers have been deployed near the Russian-Ukrainian border and in the temporarily occupied territories in the Donbas region, Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov told Ukraine’s parliament on Dec. 3.
Since then, U.S. President Joe Biden has said that the White House is working out “the most comprehensive and meaningful set of initiatives to make it very, very difficult for Mr. Putin to go ahead and do what people are worried he may do.”
Meanwhile, G7 ambassadors issued an official statement on Dec. 12 warning the Kremlin that there would be “massive consequences and a severe cost” if Russia carried out further military aggression against Ukraine.
The Biden administration is pushing European Union allies to finalize a broad package of sanctions against Russian banks and energy companies that could be imposed jointly with the United States if the Kremlin attacked Ukraine, the Bloomberg international news agency reported on Dec. 16, citing sources familiar with the discussions.
In a resolution adopted on Dec. 16, the European Parliament called for the imposition of “severe economic and financial sanctions against the Russian government to address immediate threats, rather than waiting for another invasion to take place before taking action.”
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