US Intelligence Analysts Say Russian Troops Near Ukraine

Putin reportedly wants a guarantee that NATO will stay out of Ukraine
By Liz MacGahan,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 4, 2021 10:15 AM CST
Russian Troops on Ukraine Border Sparks Concern
In this 2019, file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin, center right, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, center left, arrive for a working session at the Elysee Palace, Paris, France.   (Ian Langsdon/Pool Photo via AP, File)

(Newser) – Russian troops are massing at its border with Ukraine, and US intelligence analysts say more are coming. They've also seen an uptick in anti-Ukraine propaganda in Russia, and troop movements are being done less openly than last time, NBC News reports. But Ukraine is better prepared to defend itself than when conflict erupted over Crimea in 2014. Russia would face harsh economic sanctions if they invaded, too, the Washington Post reports. Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said there are more than 94,000 troops near Ukraine and in Crimea, and there are more coming, while US intelligence say the number is a little lower. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that he needs a guarantee that Ukraine won’t be admitted to NATO. President Joe Biden won’t give him one. “I don’t accept anyone’s red line,” Biden said.

Biden and the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, are planning to speak next week, and Putin and Biden are going to have a phone call in the next few days, per WaPo, but the White House hasn’t confirmed this. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Biden is likely to call Putin in the next few days, the New York Times reports. Blinken recently met with Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, and told him aggression would be met with unprecedented sanctions. Lavrov said if Russia couldn’t get a firm promise that NATO wouldn’t base weapons systems in Ukraine, they would take “retaliatory measures to correct the military-strategic balance,” per the Times. Russia denies it has any plans to invade Ukraine, despite military exercises less than 200 miles from the border—and the annexation of Crimea. Russian troops and Russia-backed separatists are active in the Donbas area of Ukraine, too, and have been since 2014, CNN reports. (Read more Russia-Ukraine conflict stories.)

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