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miercuri, 26 ianuarie 2022 - 16:14
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Russia builds up forces near Ukraine even as U.S. offers talks

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Russia is continuing to build up forces close to Ukraine even as it’s preparing for security talks with the U.S., keeping up the pressure with a deployment that could turn into a rapid invasion or a long-term threat, according to Bloomberg. 

Citing “further troop movements on the border,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told reporters “my concern is great” and called for dialogue on Wednesday. Russia now has 122,000 troops within 200 kilometers of the border, according to Ukraine’s Security and Defense Council. 

Satellite images show tanks, artillery and air-defense systems have been moved to border regions near Ukraine since November, according to defense-intelligence firm Janes. While the images appear to show limited troop numbers on the ground with the equipment, Russia would be able to reinforce them quickly and covertly with large deployments using trains or aircraft, it said.

The U.S. and its European allies have warned Russia of massive consequences if it attacks neighboring Ukraine as they struggle to decipher President Vladimir Putin’s intentions. The Kremlin denies it plans to invade. 

The Kremlin already got some of what it wanted when the U.S. agreed to hold talks on Russia’s demand for “legally binding” security guarantees that would prevent the North Atlantic Treaty Organization from expanding further east, barring Ukraine from its goal of eventually gaining membership.

The U.S. says it’s ready to hold talks in January on two draft security treaties Russia published last week, though it’s called some proposals “unacceptable.” American intelligence shared with European allies last month showed Russia may be planning an invasion of Ukraine as soon as next month involving as many as 175,000 troops. 

The Kremlin says Russia is entitled to deploy troops wherever it likes on its own territory. 

Russian General Staff Chief Valery Gerasimov and U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley discussed international security issues in a phone call Wednesday, the Interfax news service reported, citing the Defense Ministry in Moscow.

Russia will “do everything” to make the West understand its position, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday in an interview with RT TV. “I hope that taking into account the actions we are taking to ensure our defensive capability, we will be taken seriously.”