The gathering of Russian troops near the border with Ukraine has raised concerns with Kiev and the United States about the risk of a military attack.
What do Russia and Ukraine say about the risk of conflict?
Russia denies threatening any country and insists it has the right to freely deploy forces within its territory. Russia accuses Ukraine and NATO of increasing tensions and says Kiev may be preparing to retake two regions in the east, which have been controlled by separatist forces since 2014.
Recently, on November 23, a Kremlin spokesman (the executive branch of the government of Russia) said that Russia will not attack Ukraine and will not carry out “aggressive” plans, but does not rule out the possibility of military action after Moscow considers it to the unsettling threats from Kiev.
Ukraine, meanwhile, denies any offensive plans to retake the two eastern regions, and accuses Russia of mobilizing more than 92,000 troops near its border to prepare for a conflict.
Will the Russia-Ukraine conflict happen?
Nearly all experts agree that it is unlikely that a conflict between Russia and Ukraine will take place in the near future, after speaking to numerous Western and Russian intelligence officials.
According to experts, a more realistic scenario is that President Putin will use military force to warn that Russia is serious about protecting “red lines” against Ukraine.
In recent weeks, Moscow has repeatedly asserted that Russia does not accept NATO’s supply of weapons to Ukraine or any of its military presence in Ukraine. Russia also strongly opposes the possibility of Ukraine becoming a member of NATO.
In the spring of 2021, Russia deployed more than 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border and then withdrew. Experts estimate that by such moves, President Putin is making Russia’s opponents speculate about his intentions and reminding the West that Russia is capable of and you cant simply ignore it.
Ukraine strengthens forces
Meanwhile, Ukraine has been beefing up its military power since 2014 after Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Kiev possesses advanced anti-tank missiles supplied by Washington and supported by US intelligence.
Since April, the US and its allies have increased their military support for Ukraine. In March, the US announced it would provide a $125 million package of military assistance to Ukraine, which includes coast guard vessels and radar equipment.
The United States then provided an additional support package to Ukraine worth $150 million in June. Electronic warfare, communications and radar equipment in these packages for the Armed Forces of Ukraine has increased. the total amount of US assistance to Ukraine since 2014 is 2.5 billion USD.
Recently, CNN quoted several sources as saying that the US is discussing a lethal weapons aid package for Ukraine, which may include new Javelin anti-tank missiles, anti-armor missiles, and mortars.
The West imposed sanctions on Russia after it annexed Crimea in 2014 and may increase new and stronger measures in the near future, such as blocking the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from operating.
If a conflict between Russia and Ukraine occurs, tensions between Russia and the West will inevitably escalate, if not completely, the relationship will break down.
It is not clear how NATO will act if the above scenario occurs because Ukraine is not a member of this alliance. Still, inaction could leave NATO on the sidelines, and NATO doesn’t want that.
“This is a game on the brink of war. Both NATO and Russia will have to carefully calculate their next steps. If NATO deploys forces, Russia will consider an act of war and can take offensive action,” commented Samir Puri expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).
“Whether developments in Ukraine can lead to war, I think this possibility is unlikely. This is really the scenario that both Russia and NATO are trying to prevent,”.