Russia amasses troops near U.S. ally Ukraine. But what is Putin's goal?

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Tens of hundreds of Russian troops massing near the Ukrainian border, convoys of tanks, and a deadly escalation in the grinding trench warfare in eastern Ukraine.

these storm clouds on Europe's japanese flank are causing grave alarm in Washington and across the continent.

"we're now seeing the most important attention of Russian forces on Ukraine's borders since 2014," Secretary of kingdom Antony Blinken said Tuesday after flying to NATO's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. "that is a deep situation now not handiest to Ukraine, but to the us."

In a name with Russian President Vladimir Putin later in the day, President Joe Biden declared Washington's "unwavering dedication to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity" and "called on Russia to de-strengthen tensions," a White house readout stated.

Western officers and experts at the moment are seeking to decipher what Moscow is probably making plans: Is Putin checking out Biden's mettle — or is he in reality looking to spark a fresh military warfare on the fringes of Europe?

"The constructive evaluation is this is meant to intimidate Ukraine," said Michael Kofman, a senior research scientist at CNA, a studies group based in Virginia. "The pessimistic evaluation, which I suppose is a decrease chance but despite the fact that very worth considering, is that Russia is truely spoiling for a combat and that they may be seeking to bait Ukraine into a miscalculation."

Russia and Ukraine had been locked in struggle due to the fact that 2014, when Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula and started helping separatists in the us of a's east. That war has rumbled on ever considering, costing a few 14,000 lives no matter a series of shaky ceasefires.

however due to the fact March experts say they are witnessing some thing new.

Russia has started out sending heaps of troops, tanks, artillery and other devices to Crimea and regions along its 1,200-mile land border with Ukraine, in line with Western governments and impartial experts who screen those maneuvers.

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The Russian troops quantity 40,000 in Crimea and every other forty,000 in other regions alongside the border, Iuliia Mendel, spokeswoman for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Monday.

for the reason that the Russian army has an anticipated 800,000 to 900,000 troops, "that might be approximately 10 percent of the Russian military's general manpower," in step with Rob Lee, a former U.S. Marine who now tracks navy deployments at the department of warfare studies at King's university London.

Russia says these moves are "schooling missions," defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday. however experts say they do not healthy the usual sample for those wargames. Russian navy officials have not furnished the same old degree of element or forewarning.

"they are intentionally leaving their intentions ambiguous here," Lee said.

in the meantime, the fragile ceasefire it's saved the Donbas war at a simmer has deteriorated, with more than 30 Ukrainian infantrymen killed already this yr, in comparison with forty nine in 2020, Ukraine says.

In reaction, U.S. european Command has raised its hazard stage to the best available, the ny times pronounced. And it's far making plans to ship warships to the Black Sea, in step with Turkey, which controls passage into it. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby declined to touch upon both of those moves at recent briefings.

"If Russia acts recklessly," Blinken advised NBC news' "Meet the press" Sunday, "there will be outcomes."

After meeting Blinken on Tuesday, Ukrainian foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba stated the "Russian buildup is taking region, not handiest along the border of Ukraine, however alongside the border of democratic world."