Elizabeth Boyle, Staff
Over the past few months, the Russian army has virtually encircled the Northern border of Ukraine with over 92,000 troops. This past week Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed that Ukraine had intercepted communications in Russia talking about Russian involvement in orchestrating a coup d’etat against the Kiev Government. Likewise, the head of Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence Agency, Brig. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, reported that Russian forces are preparing for a combined air, artillery and armor attack sometime in January or February.
Russia has denied any allegations that it has plans to invade Ukraine.
Russian-Ukrainian tension has been on the U.S. and The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)‘s radar for quite a while, but any time the issue is brought to the forefront, Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied that Russia has any plans to invade Ukraine. Putin’s denials have not lessened current concern in light of Russia seizing Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014, and ongoing Russian supported fighting throughout Eastern Ukraine.
In light of these potential allegations, the U.S. and members of NATO have begun coordinating about how to neutralize Russia’s threat to Ukrainian sovereignty. After hearing about these conversations, President Putin talked about the West’s response at his annual state of the union address. Putin warned the West not to cross Russia’s security “red line” by placing offensive weapons systems, especially advanced missile systems, in Ukraine. Putin said that if the Western militaries move high technology missiles into Ukraine, Moscow would be exposed and be open to an attack within 5 to 10 minutes. Putin explained, “if supersonic weapons are placed there [in Ukraine]” then the risk of an attack on Moscow could happen in as little as five minutes. Putin went on to explain how Russia has created a sea based hypersonic missile, which Putin said can travel nine times the speed of sound. He says, “the flight time to those who give out such orders will also be 5 minutes.” Putin said his deployment of such weaponry is specifically made to enforce Moscow’s “red line.”
In response to Russian troops surrounding Ukraine and Putin’s explanation of a missile made to protect the “red line,” U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken gave Russia a warning while he was in Latvia on Tuesday. Blinken said any aggression can “trigger serious consequences.” At the time he was meeting with the Latvian foreign minister Edgars Rinkevics. Blinken was in Latvia specifically to discuss the movement of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border and said they plan to continue the conversation as NATO ministers convene a meeting later in the week.
In coordination with NATO, the Biden administration is debating whether or not to send U.S. military personnel and weapons to Ukraine to deter and/or prepare for a possible invasion by Russia. NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, has told the U.S. and other NATO militaries to prepare for the worst, as he is concerned that Russia is indeed preparing to invade Ukraine. Additionally, the U.S. has been discussing possible economic sanctions with the European Union in the event that Ukraine is invaded.
Amid the global conversation about the rising tension, Putin continues to deny that he has any plans to invade Ukraine, and has accused the U.S. and its allies of trying to challenge Russia’s efforts to secure its territory and its “near abroad” interests.