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Will Russia Invade Ukraine Next Month?

Russian Invasion
Russian T-90 Tank. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

According to a U.S. official who spoke to the Washington Post, Russia plans to invade Ukraine as soon as January.

For the past few weeks, Russian military movements on the border with Ukraine have alarmed the world. Many fear that Moscow might try to do a repeat of 2014 when Russian forces invaded and annexed Crimea.

Is Russia Ready to Pounce? 

Since October, the Kremlin has been amassing troops and materiel on the border with Ukraine under the pretext of exercises. This is the second time that Moscow has built up its military strength in the region this year. In April, during the first months of the Biden administration, Russian forces against amassed on the border, and many feared that they would strike.

According to the Washington Post, the U.S. intelligence community estimates that there are close to 70,000 Russian troops divided into 100 tactical task forces in the border region. Currently, approximately 50 of these units have been deployed into four locations opposite Ukraine. However, U.S. officials believe that that number might rise to potentially 175,000 troops soon.

“The Russian plans call for a military offensive against Ukraine as soon as early 2022 with a scale of forces twice what we saw this past spring during Russia’s snap exercise near Ukraine’s borders. The plans involve extensive movement of 100 battalion tactical groups with an estimated 175,000 personnel, along with armor, artillery and equipment,” a U.S. administration official said, according to the Washington Post.

The U.S. intelligence community’s assessment of potential troops is almost double the number of troops that Ukrainian military intelligence had assessed a few days ago.

Kyiv had then estimated that Moscow had deployed about 90,000 troops, 1,200 tanks, 2,900 armored personnel carriers, 1,600 pieces of artillery, 330 fighter, bomber, and attack jets, 240 helicopters, and 81 surface warships and submarines. In addition, the Ukrainian military intelligence claimed that Russia had installed more than 2,000 troops in the separatist units that have been fighting Ukrainian military forces in the Donbas region since 2014.

What’s Going On In Ukraine? 

What Moscow might very well be doing with respect to Ukraine is softening the target. If Russian troops keep showing up on the border repeatedly, the Ukrainian people and the international community might gradually not pay enough attention after the first few times. But that would give Moscow the advantage of surprise in case it does decide to strike at some point as its opponents would have been desensitized to the presence of large formations of troops.

Moscow has always been very protective about its sphere of influence, or the countries that once composed the Soviet Union. Ukraine was one of them, and a potential loss of Kyiv to the West through NATO or the European Union seems to be a red line for the Kremlin.

In a speech to Russian diplomats in November, President Vladimir Putin has said about the tensions that, “Our recent warnings [in Ukraine] have been noticed and had an effect. A certain tension has appeared there. We need for this condition to remain as long as possible, so nobody gets it into their head to cause a conflict we don’t need on our western borders.

President Biden is scheduled to talk with President Putin next week.

1945’s New Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate.

1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist with specialized expertise in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. wesley bruce

    December 6, 2021 at 4:42 pm

    Its still ambiguous as to whether Putin is talking about Kyiv or the Donbas region communists. The latter may be a real threat to him. Kyiv is not likely to march on Moscow but the Donbas communists might if they think that have support from the left in the rest of Russia and from people in the army. There are few forces marshaled on the border close to Kyiv, most are in the north of the Donbas and to its east. Those are the roads and rail lines from Donbas to Moscow. People regularly over look the internal threats to Putin and the possibility that someone there might want his job. Someone far more dangerous than Putin is.

  2. Mr. Russian

    December 6, 2021 at 7:35 pm

    “What Moscow might very well be doing with respect to Ukraine is softening the target”
    That’s one possibility, another one is that Russia shows that it’s serious about “red lines”.
    Russia keeps sending warnings to the West.
    June 17th, 2021 – Putin says that NATO expansion into Ukraine is a red line for Russia.
    September 27th, 2021 – Putin says again that NATO expansion into Ukraine is a red line for Russia.
    November 18th, 2021 – Putin warns that supplying Ukraine with modern weapons is very concerning to Russia.
    November 30th, 2021 – Putin says that he’s concerned that NATO is very closed to Russian borders, mentions Ukraine again.
    December 2nd, 2021 – Russian FA ministry reiterates that NATO expansion into Ukraine is a red line for Russia.
    Here are several replies from the Western parties.
    December 1st, 2021 – Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary-General of NATO basically says that Russia has no say to whatever Ukraine would be joining NATO or no.
    December 1st, 2021 – Mr. Blinken says that “NATO itself is a defensive alliance. We’re not a threat to Russia.” He’s a joker, apparently.
    December 2nd, 2021 – Mr. Blinken says that the US and NATO are fully committed to Ukraine
    December 4th, 2021 – President Biden says “I don’t accept anybody’s red lines” when discussing Ukraine.

    So here you have. Clearly it’s a conflict not between Ukraine and Russia but between NATO (the US) and Russia. So far this is a diplomatic conflict, I hope it resolves diplomatically.

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