Even as they conceded the threat is genuine and received a cargo of US military weapons to strengthen up their defenses, Ukraine’s authorities sought to reassure the population that an invasion from neighboring Russia was not near on Tuesday.
Moscow has rejected plans for an attack, but it has amassed an estimated 100,000 troops near Ukraine in recent weeks and is conducting military drills across the country. As a result, the US and its NATO partners have been rushing to prepare for a possible war.
U.S. According to President Joe Biden, Russian President Vladimir Putin “continues to gather forces along Ukraine’s border,” and an attack “would be the greatest invasion since World War II.”
Several rounds of high-stakes diplomacy have failed to produce any results, and tensions have risen even higher this week. NATO said it was beefing up its deterrent in the Baltic Sea region, while the US put 8,500 troops on high alert for possible deployment to Europe as part of an alliance “reaction force” if needed. Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, has also stated that he is willing to send soldiers to Europe to safeguard NATO members.
“We have no intention of deploying American or NATO military in Ukraine,” Biden said, adding that in the case of an invasion, Putin would face harsh economic consequences, including personal penalties.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron called for an end to the crisis in a show of European unity in Berlin.
“Clear steps from Russia that will lead to a de-escalation of the situation,” Scholz said. “If there is aggression, there will be reprisal, and the cost will be very severe,” Macron said, adding that he would speak with Putin by phone on Friday.
If Moscow deploys its military into Ukraine, the US and its allies have promised penalties like never before, but they have given few details, arguing it’s best to keep Putin guessing.
The United States State Department has ordered all American personnel in the US Embassy in Kyiv to leave the country, as well as non-essential embassy staff. Britain announced that it, too, was removing some diplomats and their dependents from their embassy, and that families of Canadian diplomatic workers were also forced to leave.
Ukrainian officials, on the other hand, have attempted to convey a sense of calm. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged Ukrainians not to panic in his second televised address to the nation in as many days.
“We are powerful enough to keep everything in check and derail any destabilizing attempts,” he stated.
The withdrawal of some of the United States’, Britain’s, Australia’s, Germany’s, and Canada’s ambassadors and dependents from Kyiv “doesn’t necessarily signify an inevitable escalation and is part of a sophisticated diplomatic game,” he added. “As a single team, we’re collaborating with our partners.”
Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov told parliament that “as of today, there are no grounds to believe” that Russia will invade soon, saying that the country’s military had not organized a “battle group” to push their way across the border.
“Don’t worry,” he continued, “sleep comfortably.” “You don’t need to pack your baggage.”
However, in a late Monday interview, he admitted that “risky scenarios” are probable.
Western assertions that Russia is contemplating an attack are only a cover for NATO’s own planned provocations, according to Russia. Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, accused the US of “fomenting tensions” in Ukraine, a former Soviet state that has been at odds with Russia for over eight years.
As a response to what it dubbed “hostile” acts by the US and its allies, Moscow has rejected Western requests to withdraw its soldiers from territories near Ukraine, saying it will deploy and train troops wherever necessary on its territory.
Thousands of servicemen from Russia’s Southern and Western Military Districts took part in readiness drills involving Iskander missiles and dozens of warplanes in both regions on Tuesday.
Following the deposition of a pro-Kremlin president in Kyiv in 2014, Moscow grabbed the Crimean Peninsula and backed a separatist conflict in Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland.
Over 14,000 people have been died in fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed insurgents, and efforts to achieve a settlement have stagnated.
In the most recent stalemate, Russia is seeking assurances from the West that NATO will never admit Ukraine as a member and that the organization will limit other activities such as troop stationing in former Soviet bloc nations.
Some of these, such as the membership pledge, are unworkable for NATO, resulting in an impasse that many worry would only end in a conflict.
Ukraine has been accused by Moscow of massing troops near rebel-controlled areas in order to reclaim them by force, which Kyiv denies.
Analysts believe Ukraine’s authorities are torn between calming the country and ensuring the country receives adequate help from the West in the event of an invasion.
“The Kremlin’s intentions include weakening the situation inside Ukraine, inciting frenzy and terror among Ukrainians, and the authorities in Kyiv are finding it increasingly difficult to manage this snowball,” political expert Volodymyr Fesenko said.
Andrey Chekonovsky, a Kyiv resident, stated that Ukrainians have been living with the prospect of a Russian assault for eight years, “and I believe that the reason that we are concerned now is related to diplomatic games.”
Despite the crisis, a large crowd gathered outside parliament to demand changes to the country’s tax laws, and even clashed with police at one point.
Other Ukrainians are keeping a wary eye on things.
“Of course, we are concerned about Russian aggression and a war that will further impoverish Ukrainians. But we’ll have no choice but to fight and defend ourselves,” Dmytro Ugol, a 46-year-old construction worker in Kyiv, said. “I am willing to fight, but my entire family opposes it and lives in fear.” The news terrifies us more and more every day.”
On Monday, the United States put its soldiers on high alert for Europe, indicating that the West is losing optimism that Putin will back down.
The Pentagon said Tuesday that it is still identifying the nearly 8,500 American troops on high alert for future deployment to Europe, and that more troops might be called in if necessary. According to press secretary John Kirby, the US is continuing in “active consultation” with allies about the capabilities they may require.
According to Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar, a shipment of equipment and weapons arrived in Ukraine on Tuesday as part of a new $200 million in security aid provided to Ukraine by the US.
If Russia invades, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires in Ukraine Kristina Kvien declared at the airport that “we will send extra defense material to the Ukrainians, over and beyond what we have already sent.”
“And let me emphasize that Russian forces dispatched to Ukraine at the Kremlin’s request will face tremendous opposition. “Russia will suffer significant losses,” Kvien said.
To enhance a defensive presence in Eastern Europe, the US moves are being coordinated with other NATO countries. Denmark is dispatching a frigate and F-16 fighter jets to Lithuania; Spain is dispatching four fighter jets to Bulgaria and three ships to the Black Sea to join NATO naval forces; and France is preparing to dispatch troops to Romania.
According to two senior administration officials who briefed reporters on attempts to limit spillover, Biden’s national security team has been working with numerous European states, the European Commission, and global suppliers on contingency preparations if Russia cuts off electricity.
Europe would turn to natural gas sources in North Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and the United States if necessary. According to one official, the attempt would require “much lesser volumes from a variety of sources” to compensate for a Russian cutoff.