2021–2022 Russo-Ukrainian crisis

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2021–2022 Russo-Ukrainian crisis
Part of the Russo-Ukrainian War
Russian forces near Ukraine, 2021-12-03 (crop).jpg
Map of the assessment of US intelligence on the movement of Russian troops near the border with Ukraine as of December 3, 2021. It is estimated that Russia has deployed about 70,000 troops, mostly at a distance of 100–200 km from the Ukrainian border. It is estimated that the number could increase to 175,000.
DateMarch 3, 2021 – present
Location
Status Ongoing
Belligerents

Ukraine Ukraine

Russia Russia
Donetsk People's Republic Donetsk PR
Luhansk People's Republic Luhansk PR

Supported by:
Commanders and leaders

Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky
Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba
Ukraine Oleksii Reznikov
Ukraine Andrii Taran
Ukraine Valerii Zaluzhnyi
Ukraine Ruslan Khomchak

Russia Vladimir Putin
Donetsk People's Republic Denis Pushilin
Luhansk People's Republic Leonid Pasechnik
Russia Sergey Lavrov
Russia Sergey Shoygu
Russia Valery Gerasimov

Supported by:
Strength

Ukraine 209,000 Armed Forces
Ukraine 102,000 Paramilitary
Ukraine 900,000 Reserve Forces[2]


Training mission:
Canada 200 (Operation Unifier)[2]
United States 165 (JMTG-U)[5]
United Kingdom 53 (Operation Orbital)[2]
Poland 40 (JMTG-U)[2]

Lithuania 26 (JMTG-U)[2]

Russia 100,000[6]
Donetsk People's Republic ≈ 20,000[2]
Luhansk People's Republic ≈ 14,000[2]

The 2021–2022 Russo-Ukrainian crisis is an ongoing military confrontation and international crisis between Russia and Ukraine that started on March 3, 2021 and escalated in late 2021, when NATO denied the Kremlin "guarantees of Ukraine's non-accession". The crisis has caused international tension, also involving NATO, the European Union, the Lublin Triangle,[7] the Union State, the Commonwealth of Independent States and the CSTO.

Background[edit]

On March 3, 2021, militants of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic announced that they had received permission to use "preemptive fire for destruction" on the positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The head of the Ukrainian delegation of the Tripartite Contact Group for the Settlement of the Situation in Donbas, Leonid Kravchuk, called such statements a breach of the Minsk agreements.[8]

On March 16, the SBGS border patrol in the Sumy Oblast recorded a Mi-8 helicopter flying from the Russian Federation at a distance of about 50 meters into Ukraine. Then the helicopter turned in the opposite direction and left the airspace of Ukraine.[9]

On March 26, at 1:45 p.m., Russian troops fired mortars at Ukrainian positions near the village of Shumy. As a result of the shelling, 4 Ukrainian servicemen were killed.[10]

On March 30, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Colonel-General Ruslan Khomchak, said from the Verkhovna Rada rostrum that according to intelligence reports, the Russian Armed Forces is increasing the number of troops on the outskirts of Ukraine in preparation for the West 2021 exercise. According to Khomchak, this poses a threat to the military security of the state. He stated that as of March 30, 2021, 28 battalion tactical groups of the enemy are already being held along the border and the temporarily occupied territories, whose troops are concentrated in the occupied Crimea, as well as in Rostov, Bryansk and Voronezh oblasts.[11]

On March 30, the Verkhovna Rada at a special session adopted a statement on the escalation of the Russian-Ukrainian armed conflict. 308 parliamentarians voted in favor. The text of the statement says that in September 2021 a joint Belarusian-Russian exercise is planned in Belarus, which poses a danger to Ukraine and is perceived as a threat of escalation of the international armed conflict between Ukraine and Russia.[12]

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Millie spoke with the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Ruslan Khomchak to discuss the current security environment in Eastern Europe.[13] On the same day, Mark Milli had a conversation with the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation Valery Gerasimov.[14][15]

Russia has refused to renew the ceasefire in Donbas.[16]

A spokesman for Russian President Dmitry Peskov said that the movement of the Russian army on the territory of the country should not cause concern to other countries, the Russian army moves through Russian territory in the directions and fatigue that it deems necessary to ensure reliable security.[17]

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken discussed the aggravation of the situation in Donbas. Blinken reaffirmed US unwavering support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The Minister of Defense of Ukraine Andrii Taran had a telephone conversation with the Minister of Defense of the United States of America Lloyd Austin. The heads of the defense ministries of Ukraine and the United States discussed specific areas of strengthening cooperation in the field of security and defense. Lloyd Austin expressed concern over the recent actions of the Russian Federation and assured the Minister of Defense of Ukraine of his readiness to support Ukraine in the context of Russia's ongoing aggression in the Donbas and Crimea. The US Secretary of Defense stressed that in the event of escalation of Russian aggression, the United States will not leave Ukraine alone and will not allow the implementation of aggressive aspirations of the Russian Federation towards Ukraine.[18]

Roman Mashovets, Deputy Head of the Office of the President, met with Alexander Vinnikov, Head of the NATO Office in Ukraine. The meeting also focused on increasing the presence of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border. Alexander Vinnikov promised to pass all data on the situation on Ukraine's borders to NATO Headquarters.

The Defense Attaché of the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom met with the Minister of Defense of Ukraine Taran, two of his deputies Petrenko and Polishchuk, the Commander of the Joint Forces of the Armed Forces Lieutenant General Serhii Naiev and the Chief of the Central Intelligence Agency Kyryl Budanov.

Russian sources, in particular, on the popular telegram channel "Military Observer", affiliated with the Russian security forces, published a video of the flight of a group of Russian attack helicopters Ka-52 and Mi-28, emphasizing that the flight allegedly took place on the border with Ukraine.[19]

US President Joseph Biden, on April 2, had his first telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.[20]

In late March–early April 2021, the Russian military moved large quantities of arms and equipment from western and central Russia, and as far away as Siberia, into occupied Crimea and the Pogonovo training facility 17 km south of Voronezh.[21][22]

Russian and pro-Kremlin media reported that a child was allegedly killed in a Ukrainian drone attack in the occupied part of Donbas, without giving any details: no comments from relatives, photos from the scene, or the name of the child killed. The reports of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission for 2 and 3 April do not contain any data on the shelling of the civilian population by the Armed Forces of Ukraine.[23]

The speaker of the Russian State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin stated that the leadership of Ukraine should be held responsible for the death of a child near Donetsk and proposed to exclude Ukraine from the Council of Europe.[24]

On April 5, 2021, the Ukrainian side of the Joint Control and Coordination Center sent a note to the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine regarding the intentions of the occupation administration to falsify the events in N.P. Oleksandrivske, Donetsk Oblast of Ukraine. But noted that given the considerable remoteness of n.p. Oleksandrivske from the line of contact between the parties, which calls into question the possibility of using the UAV at such a distance, as well as taking into account the baselessness of the accusation, the Ukrainian side categorically denies its involvement in what happened.[25]

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson said that his country was concerned about Russia's activities in the occupied Crimea and on the border with Ukraine. He said this during a telephone conversation with President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky.[26]

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called on President Volodymyr Zelensky to express support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity in connection with Russia's actions.[27] President Volodymyr Zelensky briefed Jens Stoltenberg on Russia's continued withdrawal of troops to Ukraine's borders and their readiness to attack.[28]

The Land Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine have announced a meeting of terrorist defense to strengthen and protect the state border, protect and defend critical facilities and combat sabotage and reconnaissance groups in the southern border areas of Ukraine.[29]

Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, said that the security of Russians, including in the occupied Donbas. According to Peskov, "the Kremlin does not yet see Ukraine's intentions to move away from the" militant issue "and take control of units of its troops on the line of contact in Donbas."[30]

The Prime Minister of Slovakia, Ivan Korčok, stated that the ceasefire and the announcement of an increase in Russia's military power on the border with Ukraine are a matter of concern and call for de-escalation of tensions.[31]

The President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyi had a telephone conversation with the Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau. The President informed the Prime Minister of Canada about the constant violations of the ceasefire in Donbas, leading to growing losses among the Ukrainian military, as well as the increasing military threat to Ukraine from Russia.[32]

A Ukrainian serviceman was killed as a result of shelling of Ukrainian positions by Russian mercenaries near the town of Nevelske in the Donetsk Oblast. Another soldier was killed near Stepny by an unknown explosive device.[33]

In the Donetsk Oblast, at about 5 pm, as a result of the shelling, the pumping station of the first rise of the South Donbas water supply system, located in the "gray zone" between the villages of Vasylivka and Kruta Balka, was de-energized. As a result, 50 settlements were left without water, including Mariupol.[34] Shortly after Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014, Ukraine blocked the flow of the Northern Crimean Canal, which had supplied 85% of Crimea's water.[35] Crimea's reservoirs were subsequently depleted and water shortages ensued, with water reportedly only being available for three to five hours a day in 2021.[35] That same year, the New York Times cited senior American officials as saying that securing Crimea's water supply could be an objective of an possible incursion by Russia.[36][37]

In an interview with the French newspaper Liberation, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that today's provocations by Russia with the relocation of troops to the border with Ukraine and the aggravation of the situation in the east are the most serious since the attack on Ukrainian sailors in the Kerch Strait in November 2018. At the same time, today's threat from Russia is more dangerous.[38]

Dmytro Kozak, Deputy Head of the Russian Presidential Administration and a parliamentarian at the level of political advisers, said that the intensification of hostilities in Donbas could be the beginning of the end of Ukraine. The same applies to Ukraine's accession to NATO.[39]

During a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel demanded that the Kremlin head reduce its military presence near Ukraine's borders.[40]

The President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyi visited the positions on the front line of defense, where the largest number of violations of the comprehensive and permanent ceasefire regime was recorded. The head of state talked to servicemen serving in combat positions. Defenders told the President about the situation at the front.[41]

The inter-naval crossing was started by landing and artillery boats of the Caspian flotilla of the Russian Federation. It is stated that the crews and ships of the Caspian Flotilla will pass the final naval exercises in cooperation with the Black Sea Fleet.[42]

The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba had a telephone conversation with the Minister for Foreign Affairs of France Jean-Yves Le Drian. Dmytro Kuleba informed his interlocutor in detail about the latest actions of the Russian Federation aimed at destabilizing the security situation in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine. The Minister drew attention to the threatening withdrawal of Russian troops to the border of our state and the intensification of Russian propaganda that threatens Ukraine with war. He assured that Ukraine does not seek war and remains committed to a political and diplomatic settlement of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. Jean-Yves Le Drian noted that France, like Ukraine, is anxiously monitoring the withdrawal of Russian troops to the borders of our country and the temporarily occupied territories. He assured of France's continued support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. The head of French diplomacy especially noted Ukraine's prudent and wise actions in the current situation.[43]

Ukraine incorporated paragraph 16 of the Vienna Document and initiated a meeting on April 10 in the OSCE on the increase of Russian troops near the border with Ukraine and in the temporarily occupied Crimea. Ukraine's initiative was supported by the partner countries, but the Russian delegation did not appear at the meeting, refusing to provide explanations.[44]

In an interview with the Spanish news agency EFE, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that Ukraine does not want a war with Russia and is not preparing for any escalation in Donbas. In particular, it is not about preparing any offensives or military operations.[45]

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has called on Russia to immediately stop building up troops on the border with Ukraine and in the occupied territories.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba stated that any reckless step of the Russian Federation or a new round of violence on its part will cost her de[46] arly. Kuleba said that Russia continues to increase its military presence along the Ukrainian-Russian border, in the occupied territories and in the seas of Ukraine. According to him, Russia is gathering troops in three directions, including in the northeast of Ukraine, in the Crimea, in the south, and in the Donbas, in the east. Kuleba also added that in recent weeks, Russia has significantly intensified its propaganda, which dehumanizes Ukrainians and sows hatred for Ukraine.[47]

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said: "They talk about the high price, but never call it. What they have done so far, we have, firstly, studied well, and secondly, adapted. We do not think that at all can the following terminology should be used: price, retribution, etc. We are simply defending our interests and the interests of our citizens, the Russian-speaking population, we will continue to defend them".[48]

Oleksii Danilov, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, stated that Ukraine seeks to resolve the conflict in the east of the country primarily through political and diplomatic means. "Ukraine currently has no plan to return the temporarily occupied territories by military means, our task is to resolve the conflict exclusively through political and diplomatic means," he said. "Everything else is a purely information war of the Russian Federation, which they are waging not only on our territory, but throughout Europe."[49]

On April 13, Joe Biden called Vladimir Putin to find out why Russia was withdrawing troops to annexed Crimea and Ukraine's eastern borders. The presidents of the United States and Russia have agreed to meet in the "third country" in the coming months to discuss, as reported in the White House, "the full range of issues facing the United States and Russia." Russian political scientist Ivan Preobrazhensky believes that Vladimir Putin has achieved his goal of meeting with Joe Biden to confirm his status.[50]

Russia's Security Council Secretary Mykola Patrushev said at a meeting in annexed Crimea on April 14 that "Ukrainian special services are trying to organize terrorist attacks and sabotage" on the peninsula.[51]

On the night of April 14–15 this year, an incident took place in the Sea of ​​Azov between three small armored boats "Giurza-M" of the Ukrainian Navy and five boats and a ship of the Coast Guard of the Border Service of the FSB. The incident took place 25 miles from the Kerch Strait, while Navy boats escorted civilian ships. On the part of the Russian Federation, the action was corrected by the FSB Coast Guard ship No. 734, and on its commands the FSB boats performed coordinated provocative maneuvers against the MBAKs. To stop the provocations, the Navy sailors had to warn about the readiness to use airborne weapons. The incident was without any losses for our fleet, all boats of the Ukrainian Navy successfully returned to the harbor.[52]

US President Joe Biden has issued a decree declaring a state of emergency in connection with Russia's activities. This is stated in a letter from the President of Congress, published by the White House. Biden clarified that the decree was signed in accordance with the law on international emergency economic powers. Attached to this statement is the announcement of a new package of sanctions against Russia.[53]

The Russian Federation has announced the closure from next week to October 2021 of part of the Black Sea in the Kerch Strait for warships and state vessels of other countries under the pretext of military exercises, a gross violation of the right to freedom of navigation guaranteed by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. According to the convention, the Russian Federation must not obstruct or obstruct the transit passage through the International Strait to ports in the Sea of ​​Azov.[54]

In the morning it became known that the Ukrainian consul Alexander Sosoniuk was detained in the Russian city of St. Petersburg. He was detained by the FSB allegedly "while receiving confidential information during a meeting with a Russian citizen."[55][56]

Russia imposed temporary restrictions on flights over parts of Crimea and the Black Sea from April 20 to 24. This is stated in an international report for pilots.[57]

John Kirby, a spokesman for the US Department of Defense, said that Russia had concentrated more troops near the border with Ukraine than in 2014.[58]

Ukrainian Consul in St. Petersburg Oleksandr Sosoniuk, expelled by the Russian side, has left the Russian Federation.[59]

Senior diplomat of the Russian Embassy in Ukraine Yevhen Chernikov, whom Kyiv declared a persona non grata, left the country. This was in response to the detention of the Ukrainian consul in Russia.[60]

[61]

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has decided to complete inspections in the Southern and Western military districts, as all the goals have been achieved. The Minister instructed the General Staff, commanders of troops of the military districts and the Airborne Forces to plan and begin on April 23 the return of troops to permanent locations, perform a detailed analysis and summarize the results of a surprise inspection of troops.

The aggravation of Russian-Ukrainian relations occurred in late October – early November and was provoked by the first combat use of the Ukrainian Bayraktar TB2 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) against the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) formations. The message about the use of UAVs appeared almost simultaneously with the news about the occupation of the village of Staromarivka on the contact line of the parties, in which 37 Russian citizens who received passports under the simplified program lived at the time.[62][63]

Speaking at a defence-related meeting on November 2, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia was closely monitoring the use of UAVs "near the borders of Russia" and should carefully analyze the situation in this regard. According to OSCE observers, the ceasefire regime began to be violated twice as often as in 2020 (during the period from the evening of 29 October to the evening of 31 October, the ceasefire regime in the Donetsk Oblast was violated 988 times, and in Luhansk — 471 times).[64] OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) observers reported on the movement of military equipment of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, as well as repeated attempts to muffle the signal of its UAVs, which are used to monitor the terrain.[65] At the same time, publications appeared in Western media that Russia was again pulling troops to the Ukrainian border. Satellite photos of Russian armoured vehicles were cited as evidence.[66]

On 2–3 November, the director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), William Burns, met with senior Russian intelligence officials at Moscow. According to CNN, the purpose of the trip was to convey to the Kremlin U.S. President Joe Biden's concern about the situation on the border with Ukraine. Sources of the TV channel reported that after the trip, Burns spoke by phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to ease tensions between Moscow and Kyiv. For the same purpose, a high-ranking official of the US State Department was sent to Ukraine on 4 November.[67]

On November 2, Dmytro Yarosh, the former leader of the Right Sector organization, was appointed adviser to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valerii Zaluzhnyi. On 4 November, a new defence minister was approved — former Deputy Prime Minister – Minister for the Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories Oleksii Reznikov, who participated in the meetings of the Trilateral Contact Group on behalf of Ukraine.[66][68]

In November 2021, the Russian Defense Ministry described the deployment of the U.S. warships to the Black Sea as a "threat to regional security and strategic stability." The ministry said in a statement, "The real goal behind the U.S. activities in the Black Sea region is exploring the theatre of operations in case Kyiv attempts to settle the conflict in the southeast by force."[69]

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett proposed to Russian President Vladimir Putin at their meeting in Sochi on October 22 to convene a summit between Russia and Ukraine in Jerusalem as part of an attempt to stem the escalation between the two countries and reduce tensions. This was revealed by the Israeli journalist Barak Ravid, who spoke with senior Ukrainian and Israeli officials.

Bennett's proposal, which originated at the initiative of the Ukrainians, points to the unique place in which Israel is when it comes to the confrontation between Russia and Ukraine. Israel maintains close and good relations with the two countries, maintains neutrality in the crisis, and maintains a direct dialogue with the leadership of both Russia and Ukraine. This fact allowed Israel to convey messages between the parties to try and prevent a flare-up. At a meeting in Sochi, Bennett brought to Putin the idea of ​​the "Jerusalem Summit" and conveyed the message from Zelensky. Ukrainian and Israeli officials claimed the Russian president was not enthusiastic about the proposal and spoke very negatively about the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to Bennett. After this attempt, it seems that the Israeli government is trying to maintain maximum silence regarding the escalating crisis between Russia and Ukraine.

"We love Ukraine, but we are not going to get involved in a conflict between superpowers like the U.S. and Russia. We have enough on our plate" said a senior Israeli official according to Ravid.

The Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel, Korniichuk Yevhen, said to Ravid that Ukraine is still ready to hold a summit with Russia in Jerusalem but stressed that the Russian threat against Ukraine is only increasing in time. "The main lesson we learned is that we should be Israelis - not listen to anyone and be willing to defend ourselves on our own," he said to Ravid.[70]

On 13 November, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that Russia has again amassed 100,000 troops in the border area.[71] In early November, reports of Russian military buildups prompted U.S. officials to warn the EU that Russia could be planning a potential invasion of Ukraine.[72][73] Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied allegations that Russia is preparing for a possible invasion of Ukraine.[74] He accused Ukraine of "planning aggressive actions against Donbas."[75] Peskov urged NATO to stop "concentrating a military fist" near Russia's borders and to stop arming Ukraine with modern weapons.[76]

Diplomatic response[edit]

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Brussels, 16 December 2021

On 16 November, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called on the West to send Russia "a clear signal calling for reducing tension, avoiding any escalation in and around Ukraine." Stoltenberg added that the alliance records an "unusual concentration" of Russian forces near the Ukrainian border. On 15 November, Acting German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian expressed concern in a joint communique about "the movements of Russian forces and military equipment near Ukraine," calling on both sides to "show restraint." At the same time, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby confirmed that the United States continues to observe "unusual military activity" of the Russian Federation near the borders of Ukraine, and the head of the State Department Antony Blinken discussed reports of "Russian military activity" in the area with Jean-Yves Le Drian. It was reported that the United States is discussing sanctions with European allies in case of further Russian invasion.[77]

Back in early November, Ukrainian intelligence stated that information about the transfer of additional Russian troops to the Ukrainian borders was nothing more than "an element of psychological pressure." However, a week later, the Office of the President of Ukraine recognized that the Russian Federation was strengthening "specific groups of troops" near the border. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urged the French and German governments to prepare for a possible military scenario of Russia's actions in the Ukrainian direction.[77]

Against this background, Ukraine sharply intensified diplomatic efforts. On 15 November, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the head of the European Council Charles Michel discussed "the security situation along the borders of Ukraine." On the same day, Dmytro Kuleba held talks on the same issues in Brussels. The new head of the Defense Ministry, Oleksii Reznikov, went to Washington D.C., where on 18 November he met with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. On 16 November, British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace visited Kyiv. According to the tabloid Daily Mirror, a consolidated rapid response unit of about 600 fighters has been formed in the United Kingdom for transfer to Ukraine.[77]

On January 19, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov made a proposal to the United States to assume legal obligations not to vote for NATO membership of countries whose membership is opposed by the Russian Federation, reducing NATO's non-enlargement requirements. The Kremlin is ready to exchange such an "offer" for the conditions that were put forward earlier - the so-called guarantees of the non-expansion of the Alliance to the east. He noted that the decision taken at the 2008 Bucharest summit "should be ruled out" and that the United States should provide unilateral legal guarantees that "this will never happen". The position that Ukraine and Georgia will never become members of the North Atlantic Alliance, Ryabkov said, is a priority for the Kremlin. According to him, America must have "enough political will" for such a step.[78]

Security talks (January 2022)[edit]

On 28 December, U.S. and Russia announced bilateral talks would take place in Geneva on 10 January 2022, to discuss concerns about their respective military activity and to confront rising tensions over Ukraine.[79] The talks (″the extraordinary meeting of the Strategic Stability Dialogue"[80][81]) were led by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Ryabkov, and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, Wendy Sherman.[80]

The Geneva meeting was followed by a meeting of the NATO–Russia Council in Brussels on 12 January 2022 that brought together all 30 NATO members and Russia to discuss, according to the official statement issued by NATO, "the situation in and around Ukraine, and the implications for European security";[82] the Russian ministry of defence's statement following the meeting said, "[Russia] brought Russian assessments of the current state in the field of euro-security, and also gave explanations on the military aspects of the Russian draft agreement on security guarantees.[83] NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference that the Russian Federation has no right to influence the accession of Georgia and Ukraine to NATO, only the Alliance and Georgia and Ukraine.[84]

The talks were judged by Russia to be unsuccessful.[85]

On January 13, 2021, Anton Krasovsky, director of Russian-language broadcasting on the RT channel, threatened to burn the Constitution of Ukraine on Khreshchatyk because of its NATO membership course.[86]

In an interview with La Repubblica on 14 January, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that Kyiv had already applied to join the military-political alliance, and in 2008 NATO decided that Ukraine and Georgia would become members, but has not yet determined when this is exactly what will happen.[87]

Military escalation[edit]

On 21 November, the head of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, Kyrylo Budanov, reported that Russia allegedly concentrated more than 92,000 troops and Iskander short-range ballistic missile systems near the Ukrainian borders. Budanov said that Russia is behind the protests against vaccination against COVID-19 in Kyiv and other protest rallies in Ukraine – this is a preparation for a large-scale military invasion. According to Budanov, Russia needs the protests so that the Ukrainian population does not resist it during the military operation, believing that the Ukrainian authorities have betrayed it: "They want to organize rallies and protests to show that people are against the government," he said in an interview with the Military Times." They are trying to prove that our government is betraying the people." According to the head of Ukrainian intelligence, Russia is trying to get the Ukrainians to change power themselves, and if it doesn't work out, "the army will step in."[88] According to Budanov, active actions should be expected in late January – early February 2022.[89][90]

Moscow, in turn, accuses Ukraine of aggressive actions. The official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, said on 25 November that the Ukrainian authorities are escalating tensions in the Donbas and are conducting offensive actions there in some areas: "The hotheads of the Kyiv regime, apparently feeling complete impunity, advocate a forceful solution to the internal Ukrainian crisis. The situation in the conflict zone is escalating. Information continues to be received about the use of weapons prohibited by the Minsk Package of Measures, which are supplied to Ukraine by NATO countries." She believes that by doing so, the Ukrainian leadership is trying to "divert attention from the degradation of the socio-economic and political situation in the country ... and switch this attention to some temporary threats from outside."[89]

Harsh statements from Kyiv and Moscow sound against the background of a deadlock on all existing negotiating platforms. There are no contacts within the Normandy Format and are not expected at any level: there will be no summit, the foreign ministers have not yet been able to coordinate a meeting, and political advisers have not communicated since September. In the Trilateral Contact Group, negotiations are reduced to discussing whether Russia is a party to the conflict.[89] On 15 November, Vladimir Putin signed a decree on providing humanitarian support to the population of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts of Ukraine.[91]

On 1 December, Russia accused Ukraine of deploying half its army – about 125,000 troops – in Donbas to confront pro-Russian separatists.[92] On 3 December, President Putin criticized Ukraine for using a Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drone against pro-Russian separatists in Donbas, saying the move violated the Minsk peace agreements.[93] On 3 December, the Minister of Defense of Ukraine Oleksii Reznikov, speaking to the deputies of the Verkhovna Rada, said: "There is a possibility of a large-scale escalation on the part of Russia. The most likely time to achieve readiness for escalation will be the end of January."[94] In December, Janes analysis concluded that major elements of the Russian 41st Army (headquartered at Novosibirsk in central Russia) and the 1st Guards Tank Army (normally deployed around Moscow) had been repositioned to the west, reinforcing the Russian 20th Guards and 8th Guards armies already positioned closer to the Ukrainian border. Additional Russian forces were reported to have moved into Crimea reinforcing Russian naval and ground units already deployed there.[95]

On 9 December, Russia accused Ukraine of moving heavy artillery towards the front line where separatists are fighting with Ukrainian forces.[96] Chief of the Russian General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, stated that [NATO's] "Deliveries of helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles and aeroplanes to Ukraine are pushing the Ukrainian authorities to take sharp and dangerous steps. Any provocations of the Ukrainian authorities by way of a forced settlement of the problems of Donbas will be suppressed."[97] On 31 December 2021, after a phone call between US President Biden and Russian President Putin, Putin declared that if the US sanctioned them it would be "a fatal mistake."[98]

On 10 January 2022, the Ukrainian government announced that it had arrested an alleged Russian military intelligence agent who was attempting to recruit others to conduct attacks in the Ukrainian city of Odessa.[99] Later, on 14 January, Ukraine was struck by a cyberattack whose perpetrators were suspected to be Russian hackers.[100] On the same day, Ukrainian military intelligence said that special services of Russia were preparing "provocations" against Russian soldiers stationed in Transnistria, a breakaway unrecognized state internationally considered to be part of Moldova, to create a pretext for a Russian invasion of Ukraine.[101]

On 17 January 2022, British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced that Britain is supplying Ukraine with 1,100 short-range anti-tank missiles.[3]

On 18 January, Russian troops were reported to have sent an unspecified number of troops into Belarus. The official reason was to conduct war games with Belarus in the following month, however several officials from Ukraine and the White House stated that the troop presence in Belarus would be used to attack Ukraine from the north, especially since the Ukrainian capital Kyiv is located very close to the Belarusian–Ukrainian border.[102][103][104][105]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The USA sent weapons and instructors.[1][2]
  2. ^ The UK sent weapons (specifically NLAW ATGMs) and instructors.[3][2]
  3. ^ Lithuania sent ammunitions and instructors.[4][2]
  4. ^ Canada sent instructors.[2]
  5. ^ Poland sent instructors.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "US small arms and ammo arrive in Ukraine as Pentagon details troops to train country's military". CNN. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l The Military Balance 2021//International Institute for Strategic Studies
  3. ^ a b Larisa Brown, Defence (ed.). "British anti-tank weapons sent to defend Ukraine from Russia". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 19 January 2022.
  4. ^ "Литва передала Україні партію військової допомоги". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 9 December 2021.
  5. ^ Fox, Greg (10 December 2021). "165 members of Florida National Guard in Ukraine". WESH.
  6. ^ "UK gives Ukraine anti-tank weapons as Canada sends special forces". 18 January 2022. Retrieved 19 January 2022.
  7. ^ ""Люблінський трикутник": з Путіним треба не розмовляти, його треба стримувати". Ukrinform.
  8. ^ Машута, Юлія (6 April 2021). "На Донеччині відкрили історико-культурний центр "Нью-Йорк"". Суспільне | Новини.
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