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Ukraine’s Own National Security and Defence Council Debunks Claims of ‘Russian Troop Buildup’

© Sputnik / Константин Морозов / Go to the mediabankOfficers watch maneuvers during joint Russian-Belarusian drills in Russia's Nizhny Novgorod region, file photo.
Officers watch maneuvers during joint Russian-Belarusian drills in Russia's Nizhny Novgorod region, file photo. - Sputnik International, 1920, 02.01.2022
Western officials and media have spent months claiming that Russia has concentrated forces on the border with Ukraine in possible preparation for an invasion, throwing around figures ranging from 100,000 to 200,000 troops – or roughly the size of Ukraine’s entire armed forces. Moscow has dismissed the claims as bogus.
Kiev does not see any evidence of any massed concentration of Russian troops on the country’s borders preparing to invade, Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of the National Security and Defence Council, an advisory body to the Ukrainian president, has said.
“Today we do not see any danger from what is happening on our borders. If we’re talking about the kind of massed concentration insisted on by foreign media, we do not see anything like this,” Danilov said at a briefing, with his remarks cited by local media.
“We are monitoring everything and are aware of everything that’s happening. Today we do not see a threat of naked aggression by Russia. What could happen tomorrow, we’ll talk about it tomorrow, ” the official added.
The National Security and Defence Council chief estimates that there are some 122,000 Russian servicemen situated within 200 km of the border with Ukraine, with another 143,500 located within 400 km of the frontier. Danilov assured however that these numbers are insufficient for any invasion, estimating that Russia would need three, four or even five times more troops to carry out such an operation.
Danilov suggested that the biggest danger to Ukraine today is internal destabilisation, which he claimed Russia might try to “take advantage of” and that this was something that “must be prevented”. He called on Ukrainians to rest easy and celebrate the winter holidays, and insisted that the country would have additional resources in the new year, including equipment for territorial defence to “repulse the aggressor” in case of an invasion. “Weapons must be kept well-oiled,” he stressed.
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Danilov is one of the few Ukrainian officials publicly calling for calm amid Western media hysteria over alleged Russian plans to invade its western neighbour. In November, after Politico released a report claiming that Russia was building up troops ‘on the border’ with Ukraine, Danilov dismissed the story as “deliberate misinformation” and said it was “not clear to us why” US media was engaged in spreading such claims.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will speak to US President Joe Biden by telephone later Sunday, with the supposed “Russian military buildup” expected to be one of the topics of discussion, according to a White House spokesperson. Zelensky and Biden previously spoke 9 December, with the Ukrainian leader asking his US benefactor for additional military assistance, and urging Washington to preemptively sanction Russia over its alleged ambitions to invade Ukraine.
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Russian officials have dismissed the “invasion” claims at length, accusing the US and its European allies of spreading fake news as a pretext for new sanctions against Russia, and as a possible means for Kiev and its allies to distract their citizens from mounting internal problems. Moscow has also expressed its own concerns about a possible attempt by Kiev to try to resolve the frozen civil conflict in eastern Ukraine by force.
Russia vocally opposes the country’s possible integration into NATO, with Russian President Vladimir Putin warning recently that the Western alliance’s attempts to pin Russia into a corner militarily l Moscow to set up its so-called ‘red lines’ on the bloc’s continued expansion.
On Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused NATO of “systematically transforming Ukraine into a military foothold against Russia,” and warned that Russia would “take all the necessary measures to protect” the hundreds of thousands of civilians with Russian passports living in the Donbass.
Russian soldiers stand near a Topol-M ICBM while participating in a rehearsal for the nation's Victory Day parade outside Moscow in Alabino on April 22, 2008 - Sputnik International, 1920, 31.12.2021
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