Russia Monitor is a review of the most important events related to Russian internal and external security, as well as its foreign policies.
Date: 4 November 2021
Is Russia Massing Troops At Ukraine’s Border?
It seems Russia is repeating the deceived war-like scenario it first played out earlier this year. In March and April, Moscow sounded so convincing in its threats to attack Ukraine that U.S. President Joe Biden invited Vladimir Putin for talks in Geneva to ease tensions. Now there is much to indicate that Moscow is playing a game to exert pressure on Western states. It is unlikely for any war to start under current weather conditions.
In late September, Ukrainian officials said that after the conclusion of the Zapad 2021 exercises, Russia left military equipment, as well as control and communications centers, at training sites along the Ukrainian border. At that time, it held little attraction for Western outlets. The situation has yet shifted and an array of influential Western media outlets like Politico and the Washington Post reported the Pentagon voiced concern amid a buildup of Russian troops at Ukraine’s border, confirmed by satellite imagery. But compared to what happened earlier this year, now tensions continue to percolate between Russia and Ukraine. The whole thing started a few weeks ago when Dmitry Medvedev, a former Russian president and incumbent deputy chair of the country’s Security Council, published a Ukraine hit piece of his own. In statements over the course of the year, Putin and the Russian foreign ministry have said the expansion of NATO activities in Ukraine represents a “red line” for Moscow. What must have caused concern in Moscow was the visit the Pentagon chief paid to Kyiv, promising Ukraine fresh weapons supplies. The USS Mount Whitney, the flagship of the U.S. 6th Fleet, has entered the Black Sea. Western media reported that armored units, tanks, and self-propelled artillery along with ground troops were massing near the Russian town of Yelnya close to the border of Belarus. Alarming reports are in line with Moscow’s strategy of intimidating Western nations. Kyiv denied the troop buildup, saying the transfer of more Russian soldiers, weapons and equipment to Ukraine’s border “was not recorded” while reports that Russia is once again massing troops and military equipment on the border are part of information and psychological warfare. Oleksiy Danilov, head of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, called media reports of the concentration of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border “deliberate disinformation.” What some Western news outlets did seems to be to the Kremlin’s liking as Russian officials again launched a war hysteria campaign. Although Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refuted claims made in the Politico report, his statement was part of an information warfare campaign to press on the West with a war threat in Eastern Europe.
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