Russia in Review: Russian Deployments near Ukraine Likely Intended to Pressure Zelensky, not Biden
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|Russia in Review: Russian Deployments near Ukraine Likely Intended to Pressure Zelensky, not BidenBy Mason Clark|
Ongoing reports of increased Russian troop movements on Ukraine’s borders and violations of the July 2020 ceasefire have drawn widespread attention and alarm but do not likely presage imminent Russian military action against Ukraine.
What we know so far:The New York Times reported on March 31 that the US military’s European Command (EUCOM) raised its watch level to the highest level in the last week of March 2021. A Pentagon spokesperson stated EUCOM is “monitoring the situation.”Russia’s proxies in eastern Ukraine escalated attacks on Ukrainian positions throughout March 2021. Neither Russia nor Ukraine has formally revoked the standing July 2020 ceasefire in Donbas, and ceasefire monitors remain in place, but Russia declined a Ukrainian offer to issue a joint reaffirmation of the ceasefire on March 31.US and Ukrainian statements about the scale of Russian force deployments vary considerably. A US official told the New York Times that Russia recently deployed 4,000 additional troops to the Ukrainian border. Ukrainian Chief of Staff Ruslan Komchak claimed on March 30 that Russia is deploying 25 additional Battalion Tactical Groups (BTGs), which would consist of considerably more than 4,000 troops, to Ukraine’s borders beyond the 28 currently deployed BTGs, but did not specify a timeframe for these projected deployments. Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley called his Ukrainian and Russian counterparts on March 31 to discuss the Russian deployments.Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart on April 1.Ukraine invited NATO to organize joint military exercises and air patrols to “stabilize the situation” on April 1. NATO has not yet responded.
Several independent sources reported video of Russian units deploying toward Ukraine from March 30 to April 1, including:
The 56th Air Assault Brigade deployed to Crimea on March 30 following an announcement by Russian Defense Minister Shoigu on March 25 that the brigade would permanently redeploy to Crimea by the end of 2021.An unidentified Russian engineering unit was observed 25 kilometers east of Luhansk, Ukraine, on March 30.An unidentified artillery unit, which could be part of the 56th Air Assault Brigade, deployed to Crimea by rail on March 31.A Russian logistical convoy moved from Rostov to eastern Ukraine on March 31.Russian trucks were seen driving through occupied Luhansk, Ukraine, on April 1.
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Russia in Review is an intelligence summary (INTSUM) produced by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). This ISW INTSUM series sheds light on key trends and developments related to the Russian government’s objectives and its efforts to secure them.For media inquiries, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call ISW’s main line 202-293-5550.
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