Russian military buildup puts Washington on edge

Washington is on the brink of Russia’s military build-up that threatens a confrontation, and fears are mounting following reports that US intelligence shows that Russian forces are preparing to enter Ukraine.

Even as the nation’s capital falls silent for the Thanksgiving holiday, the Biden administration must grapple with reports that nearly 100,000 Russian troops are stationed at various locations on the country’s western border, with no signs that those numbers decrease.

Tensions have grown so high that the US Embassy in Ukraine on Wednesday warned of “unusual Russian military activity” near Ukraine’s eastern border and on the annexed Crimean peninsula, telling US citizens not to travel there. .

“American citizens are reminded that security conditions along the border can change with little or no notice,” the embassy said.

The new warnings come as Ukraine, a strategic ally of the United States, began this week publicly touting that Russia could invade as early as January or early February, much like when it annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014 and backed an insurgency in the eastern parts of the country. which continued. Since then, more than 14,000 people have died in that conflict.

A similar land grab, which would be the second in less than 10 years, has global implications and could trigger a massive military conflict, as well as a geopolitical struggle between Russia and Western nations.

“Our concern is that Russia may make the serious mistake of trying to repeat what it undertook in 2014, when it accumulated forces along the border, crossed into sovereign territory of Ukraine, and did so by falsely claiming that it was provoked,” he said. Secretary of state Antony blinkAntony BlinkenCIA Director Says There Will Be Consequences If Russia Is Behind The ‘Havana Syndrome’ Attacks Buttigieg Has High Name Recognition And Favorability Rating In Biden’s Cabinet – US Survey Considering Sending Advisers military and arms to Ukraine: MORE report he said earlier this month.

But US officials are determined not to be caught off guard by such a military operation, and Blinken indicated on Saturday that the administration was preparing for any aggressive Russian maneuvers.

“We know the playbook of trying to cite some illusory provocation from Ukraine or any other country and use that as an excuse for what Russia plans to do from the beginning,” Blinken said while traveling to Senegal.

Reports also emerged this week that the Biden administration is considering its options to deter the Kremlin., including the dispatch of military advisers and new weapons to Kiev.

Such an aid package could include helicopters, mortars, air defense systems such as stinger missiles, and the new Javelin anti-tank and anti-armor missiles.

US officials have also reportedly spoken with European allies about forming a new sanctions package that could go into effect should Russia invade.

State Department officials have not publicly mentioned any new weapons or sanctions package, but an official told The Hill on Tuesday that the administration has “demonstrated that the United States is willing to use a number of tools to address harmful actions. from Russia and we will not hesitate. ” to make use of these and other tools in the future. ”

Also in an effort not to be surprised, administration officials have shared intelligence with allied countries.

White House Press Secretary Jen psakiJen PsakiBiden: Guilty Verdicts In Arbery Case ‘Not Enough’ Buttigieg Has High Name Recognition, Favorability Rating In Biden Cabinet – Overnight Energy & Environment Survey – Biden To Release 50 Million Barrels From Reserve Of oil MORE on Monday he told reporters that the administration has “had extensive interactions with our European allies and partners in recent weeks, including with Ukraine.”

He added that the United States “has also held talks with Russian officials about Ukraine and US-Russian relations in general.”

Pentagon officials have also been in close contact with their counterparts, with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark milleyMark Milley Night defense and national security: Russian military movements are of concern Drones are a strategic responsibility for the US The US embassy warns of an ‘unusual Russian military activity’ near the Ukraine border, in Crimea MORE speaking by phone with Lieutenant General Valeriy Zaluzhny, commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian army, on Monday.

Milley also spoke by phone Tuesday with Russia’s top military officer, General Valery Gerasimov.

Military leaders discussed “various issues of interest related to security,” said Col. Dave Butler, spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a call reading.

Additionally, the administration has dispatched U.S. Navy patrol boats to assist the Accountant of the Ukrainian Navy Moscow in the Black Sea.

But even with its threatening stance, one that numerous NATO nations have publicly pointed out, Russia continues to deny that it has any intention of invading its neighbor as it did nearly eight years ago.

Russian spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday that his accumulation of forces and equipment does not “pose a threat to anyone and should not be of concern to anyone.”

Instead, he blamed a “targeted information campaign” by Western nations as the cause of “increasing tension” and said that if the United States sends additional military aid to Ukraine, it could lead “to a further aggravation of the situation in the border line “.

However, Western nations are unconvinced, least of all with Russia this week conducting more military exercises, according to a Wednesday report from Interfax.

Russia reportedly had fighter jets and ships practicing airstrikes and fighting airstrikes, including some 10 crews of planes and ships from the Black Sea Fleet’s Novorossiysk naval base, Interfax wrote.

Ukraine, for its part, is also preparing for any military maneuvers with its own exercise this week.

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