Russia has left a rather lethal force on the border with Ukraine

PANAGYURISHTE, (BM) – In early April, when tensions between Russia and Ukraine rose sharply to the level of “war is inevitable,” the Kremlin managed to deploy nearly 150,000 troops within a week on the border between Russia and Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that these are exercises of the Russian army and no question of any conflict with their neighbor. Yes, a few days later, Putin withdrew his troops in confirmation of his words.

But a source from the United States State Department said that despite the withdrawal of troops, Moscow had left nearly 80,000 Russian troops in the areas around the border with Ukraine. According to the sources, it is impressive that after Russia withdrew at least half of the soldiers, they left a large part of their ground weapons equipment in place. This raises doubts about their possible return; sources told the New York Times.

According to military analysts, the presence of these 80,000 troops currently in the area of ​​the Ukrainian border can be seen as a response to the ongoing Defender Europe exercise, which began this Tuesday. The practice includes a total of 28,000 troops from Europe and the United States. I.e., according to analysts, this is a kind of “muscle show” by the Kremlin.

Why is the situation dangerous at the moment?

If we exclude Ukraine from the equation and focus on the ongoing exercise of the United States and its allies in Europe, an unintentional downing of a plane could have dire consequences.

“For all of the deliberative strategy, there is a standing risk of things going wrong, signals being misinterpreted,” said Ian Lesser, vice president of the German Marshall Fund. “Someone could shoot an aircraft down. Something could happen.”

“They have retained a rather lethal force in the region and have only pulled back some forces,” Maj said. Gen. Michael S. Repass, a retired former commander of U.S. Special Operations forces in Europe, is now NATO’s special operations adviser to Ukraine.

“That tells me they may want to come back later when timing and circumstances are more advantageous to Russia,” General Repass said. “This will happen again.”

Is it possible for Russia to try to achieve something else?

This question is asking by some American military analysts, who are closely following both Europe’s policy toward Moscow and the Ukrainian issue. According to them, with such maneuvers during the crisis and exercise, Moscow tries to show Ukraine the inability of the West to stop Russia.

Putin may have met this goal. The West has imposed economic sanctions on Russia but has not yet agreed on Ukraine’s accession to NATO. Thus, the power of Kyiv is not what the Ukrainians want.

Take, for example, the water problem in Crimea. Ukraine imposed this “water regime” on the peninsula in 2017. What will happen if the Russians consider that he has come to solve this problem by invading more controlled territory than Ukraine? Won’t this water control be relaxed? Moscow has more than once played with the borders of its neighbors or partners.

Experts believe that despite the real threat of the water problem being solved in this way, Moscow will not do so.

There is tension. Ukraine has already taken protective measures

Ukrainian authorities have equipped about 400km of anti-tank trenches on the border with Russia as part of the so-called Wall project. This was announced on Wednesday by the head of the State Border Service of the country, Sergei Deineko. “Throughout work, about 400 km of an anti-tank trench, 70 km of barbed wire, and 100 km of the metal fence have been equipped,” he said in an interview with RBC-Ukraine.

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk presented the Wall project in 2014 as a line of fortifications on the 2,000-kilometer border with Russia. The work expects to complete in six months, but the deadlines were extended first to 2018, then to 2021, and 2025.

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