Despite Russian claims of a troop withdrawal from the area, the actual number of troops has been increasing, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.
According to U.S. officials, the withdrawal of troops that the Kremlin had announced earlier in the week was a ruse. U.S. intelligence indicates that there are approximately 110 tactical battalion groups on the borders with Ukraine. For comparison, a few weeks ago, there were less than 100 tactical battalion groups in the area.
It seems, thus, that Moscow has been using old lessons, namely the Soviet concept of “Maskirovka,” made famous during World War Two. The concept aims to deceive the opponent and convey specifically prepared information to incline the opposition “to voluntarily make the predetermined decision desired by the initiator of the action.”
“Now, the Russians say that they are withdrawing some of those forces now that exercises are complete, but we don’t see that. Quite the contrary, we see them add to the more than 150,000 troops that they already have arrayed on that border even in the last couple of days. We see some of those troops inch closer to that border. We see them fly in more combat and support aircraft. We see them sharpen their readiness in the Black Sea. We even see them stocking up their blood supply supplies,” Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin said in a press briefing.
“America’s commitment to NATO and to Article 5 remains ironclad. As President Biden said a couple of days ago, we will, if we must, defend every inch of NATO territory. There’s no reason, of course, that it should come—it should ever come to this, just like there’s no reason for Russia to again invade Ukraine. Ukraine does not threaten anyone, let alone its Russian neighbors, and yet, that is what Moscow would have us believe, and that is how Mr. Putin continues to justify his assembly of significant combat power,” Secretary Austin added.
Diplomacy Remains The Only Way Out
On Thursday, President Biden said that the likelihood of a Russian invasion remains very high.
“It’s [the likelihood] very—because they have not—they have not moved any of their troops out. They’ve moved more troops in, number one. Number two, we have reason to believe that they are engaged in a false-flag operation to have an excuse to go in. Every indication we have is they’re prepared to go into Ukraine, attack Ukraine—number one,” the president said.
“Number two, I’ve been waiting for a response from Putin for my letter that — my response to him. It’s come to that Moscow embassy. They’re faxing it here. Not faxing it, they’re sending it here. I have not read it yet. I cannot comment on it. . . My sense is this will happen within the next several days,” Biden added.
The American president also highlighted that there is still room for a diplomatic solution. War isn’t a given. But to be avoided, Moscow needs to come to the negotiating table and be prepared for an honest discussion.
“Yes, there is [room for diplomacy] There’s a clear diplomatic path. That’s why I asked Secretary Blinken to go to the United Nations and make his statement today. He’ll lay out what that path is. I’ve laid out a path to Putin as well on, I think, Sunday. And so, there is a path. There is a way through this, but by diplomacy,” Biden said.
1945’s New Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned 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. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.