Kyiv has voiced its concern over Russia's largest military build-up along Ukraine's border since 2014. This was the year Crimea was annexed, as speculation increased over whether Moscow intends on a similar push into Ukraine's territory.
Clashes have been amplified in the last few weeks in eastern Ukraine's Luhansk and Donetsk regions. These are the scenes of hostilities between Russian-backed separatists and Kyiv-backed troops.
Will Russia Invade Ukraine?
According to the top U.S. general in Europe on Thursday, there was a "low to medium" susceptibility that Russia would invade Ukraine. In the first such military evaluation, this was stated during rising concerns regarding Russian troop movements toward Ukraine's borders.
The evaluation came as Ukraine's top diplomat appealed for stronger Western backing. He remarked that "words of support aren't enough" during escalating tensions in the country's east. U.S. Air Force General Tod Wolters refused to expound on the intelligence driving his evaluation. This does not suggest that the U.S. military expects a Russian invasion by this time. He was neither playing down the risk or ruling one out, reported SCMP.
The situation could have reportedly started with President Joe Biden touting Russian President Vladimir Putin as a "killer." It could also be due to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky penalizing one of Putin's key oligarch allies for "financing terrorism."
This week, the Foreign Minister of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba, traveled to Brussels, where he discussed with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. They held the initial bilateral meeting with United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken and participated in a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission that primarily acknowledged the Russia-led escalation, reported Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
Russia has made military actions towards the eastern Ukraine border and into Crimea. Crimea had Russian forces annexed from Ukraine in March 2014. The Kremlin has not expounded regarding the units involved, while President Vladimir Putin's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated moving troops across Russian territory was an "internal affair," and this should not concern anyone. A number of the troops, including several units in Crimea, have been on exercises. However, Peskov also accused Ukraine of staging incitement on the matter.
It could appear a lifetime ago that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shut out off the skies over eastern Ukraine by a ground-to-air missile. Ten United Kingdom citizens were among the 283 passengers and 15 crew on board. They were all killed when the aircraft pummeled on July 17, 2014.
According to Kyiv, Russia had positioned over 40,000 troops on Ukraine's eastern border and over 40,000 troops in Crimea. The amplified presence spurred Blinken to caution Russia that there would be "consequences" if Moscow acted aggressively.
In testimony before a House of Representatives committee, Wolters later proposed his view regarding the susceptibility in the coming weeks and months was at least partly based on the positioning of Russian forces. The Pentagon has refused to expound its evaluation on the size and composition of such troops. They referred reporters to Moscow.