Between 90,000 and 110,000 military troops are deployed not only on Ukraine’s eastern border with Russia, but also in the north, namely in Belarus, an ally of the Kremlin; also in the east, in Transdnistria, a rebel region of Moldova controlled by pro-Russian forces; and finally in the south, in Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula annexed by Moscow in 2014. Again, Russia’s military is in a position to strike against Ukraine, its neighbor to the west, arousing great concern among U.S., NATO and EU leaders.
According to information from U.S. intelligence services shared with NATO allies, President Vladimir Putin is weighing a full-fledged invasion of the former Soviet republic in early 2022, with 100 tactical battalion groups and supported from the air. According to his estimates, half of those nearly 100,000 military personnel would have already completed deployment. From the Russian capital, the foreign intelligence service (SVR) has completely denied such an extreme, but far from lowering the tension, it continues to loudly beat the drums of war and compare the current tension with the prolegomena that provoked in 2008 a short five-day war between Russia and Georgia and which ended bitterly for the small Caucasian republic.
“We observed a similar situation in the prolegomena of the events of 2008: then Saakashvili (the Georgian president at the time) paid a heavy price,” reads an unusual and threatening statement posted on the SVR website.
In Kiev, analysts believe that Russia is once again testing the resolve of Ukraine’s allies in defending Ukraine, given that the conflict has been going on for eight years now, namely since the Maidan revolution in 2013-2014, and some member states might be tired of the price paid in the form of sanctions for poor relations between the West and the Kremlin. Ukraine, for its part, does not expect Western countries to endanger the lives of its soldiers.
Despite the summits and constant telephone contacts between Western leaders and the Russian president, everything seems to indicate that relations with Russia will experience new peaks of tension in the coming months with several open fronts. The migration crisis on the border with Belarus is far from being resolved, and just this Monday, President Aleksandr Lukashenko demanded that Germany take charge of 2,000 migrants trapped at the border. Moreover, Russia shows no intention of increasing gas deliveries to alleviate the EU’s energy crisis.