The US now believes that Russia has placed up to 190,000 personnel “in and near Ukraine” compared to the 100,000 on January 30, Washington’s ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Michael Carpenter said Friday.
“Colleagues, this is the most significant military mobilization in Europe since the Second World War. Yet the Russian Federation absents itself from today’s important joint session and refuses to shed further light on its unprecedented military buildup,” Carpenter told a joint session of the Forum for Security Cooperation and Permanent Council.
The new US estimates include military troops on the border, in Belarus and in occupies Crimea, he said.
We are aware that Russia is intent on creating a pretext to justify an invasion into Ukraine. Therefore, we must resolutely rebut the false narrative about a Ukrainian “escalation,” which finds no evidence whatsoever in the reports of the @OSCE_SMM.https://t.co/RjADUSHitI— Michael Carpenter, U.S. Ambassador to the OSCE (@USAmbOSCE) February 18, 2022
Carpenter’s comments come as the United States and most Western capitals say that Russia could begin invading or attacking Ukraine in the coming days. Moscow claims it has no plans to do so, and the massive troop buildup is part of its military exercises.
The US has been warning for months now that an attack could begin at any time. President Joe Biden has ordered thousands of troops to Eastern Europe to bolster the defense of allies and Ukraine.
The US also set up a task force for Ukraine, shut down its embassy in Kyiv, and stepped up its warning that Russia was spreading disinformation as a pretext to attack Ukraine.
Moscow said that it had withdrawn some troops and forces from the border with Ukraine, but the US has voiced its disbelief. “We have not yet verified that... Our analysts indicate that they remain very much in a threatening position,” President Joe Biden said this week.
Carpenter doubled down on warnings of Russian attempts to justify an invasion. “Starting several weeks ago, we acquired information that the Russian government was planning to stage a fabricated attack by Ukrainian military or security forces against Russian sovereign territory, or against Russian-speaking people in separatist-controlled territory, to justify military action against Ukraine,” he said.
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