As the conflict between Russia and Ukraine heats up, tensions between the US and Russia are ratcheting up.
110,000 Russian troops on the border with Ukraine
There is no doubt that the Russian military is gearing up for a military conflict. Last week, Ukraine’s Chief of the Defense Ministry’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR MO), Kyrylo Budanov, told his country’s parliamentary committee on national security that massive amounts of Russian troops were massed on the border consisting of two combined armies, two air force and air defense armies, as well as the Black Sea fleet. He added that 28 battalion-tactical groups were put in combat readiness. The total number of soldiers deployed amounted to 89,000.
“Before the end of April, the grouping is expected to be beefed up by another nine battalion-tactical groups, to a total number of 56. We expect the deployment to be completed by April 20,” Budanov said, adding that the total number of military personnel will reach 110,000.
According to Budanov, a total of 330 warplanes have been deployed near the Ukrainian borders, as well as 240 helicopters.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signed Decree No. 117/2021 on March 24, essentially declaring war with Russia. Since the decree was issued, a bilateral military buildup has been underway.
Biden’s unwavering support
One week later, the White House released a statement expressing “unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression.”
The US planned to back these words up with military muscle and ten days ago, a defense official announced plans to send warships into the Black Sea. Russia issued a warning to the US against this move.
“There is absolutely nothing for American ships to be doing near our shores…We warn the United States that it will be better for them to stay far away from Crimea and our Black Sea coast,” Russian Deputy Foreign Ministry Sergei Ryabkov was quoted by Russian media as saying. “It will be for their own good.”
The Biden administration responded to this by canceling the military maneuver and instituting sanctions instead, claiming they were for attempting to interfere in the 2020 U.S. election and hacking federal agencies.
Russia responded to the sanctions on Friday by expelling ten US diplomats and banned several other high-ranking officials from entering the country. The banned officials included Attorney General Merrick Garland, Director of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, FBI Director Christopher Wray, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, Director of the U.S. Domestic Policy Council Susan Rice, and Director of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons Michael Carvajal.
“In addition, entry is denied to John Robert Bolton, former National Security Advisor to the United States President, former US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, and Robert James Woolsey Jr., former director of the US Central Intelligence Agency,” a statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
“The latest attack by the Biden administration against our country cannot go unanswered,” read the statement. “It seems Washington is unwilling to accept that there is no room for unilateral dictates in the new geopolitical reality. Meanwhile, the bankrupt scenarios for deterring Moscow that the US myopically continues to pursue only promise to further degrade Russian-US relations.”
❗️ In response to the sanctions against Russian officials imposed by the US administration, the following US high-ranking officials and figures complicit in pursuing the anti-Russia policy, are denied ❌ entry to the Russian Federation
— MFA Russia (@mfa_russia) April 16, 2021
CBS News reported that Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, said at a press conference that “Moscow will also place restrictions on the activities of U.S. non-governmental organizations on its territory, calling Washington’s measures ‘hostile’ and ‘unprovoked.’”