US: More than 130,000 Russian troops are now stationed in Ukraine

As the president of Ukraine sought to show confidence in the face U.S., some airlines cancelled flights to Kiev's capital.

US: More than 130,000 Russian troops are now stationed in Ukraine

On Sunday, troops unloaded new weapons shipments from NATO members. A growing number of Russian forces are warning of possible invasion within days.

After speaking with President Volodymyr Zeleskyy for approximately an hour, Joe Biden stated that Ukrainians have the country under "safe, reliable protection" from a stronger Russian military. Both the White House and Russia agreed to continue pushing diplomacy and deterrence in an effort to thwart a Russian military offensive.

Biden's administration has been vocal about its concern that Russia would stage an incident that would give Ukraine a false pretext to invade Ukraine in the days ahead.

Two people familiar with the matter say that intelligence from the U.S. as well as Europe has raised concerns that Russia might try to attack a planned Ukrainian military exercise scheduled for Tuesday in eastern Ukraine. This "false flag operation" is a result of U.S. intelligence. The two people spoke only because they weren't authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

According to American intelligence officials, Russia's potential for a false flag operation is only one option that Russia considered when targeting the military exercise. The White House stressed that they don't know if President Vladimir Putin has decided to launch an invasion.

Moscow's forces are massing in Ukraine's east, north and south as part of what the Kremlin calls military exercises.

An American official updated the Biden administration’s estimate of how many Russian forces are currently staged near Ukraine’s borders to over 130,000. This is a significant increase from the previous more than 100,000 cited by the U.S. publicly in the past weeks. To discuss the administration's conclusions, the official spoke under anonymity.

Zelenskyy repeatedly dismissed the U.S. warnings and questioned the increasingly stern statements by U.S. officials that Russia might be planning an invasion as soon as midweek.

He said that he understood all the risks and acknowledged the existence of risks in Saturday's broadcast. We would appreciate any additional information, whether it be from you or someone else, regarding a 100% Russian invasion that will begin on the 16th.

Zelenskyy, however, has warned against panic, which he fears could lead to the destruction of Ukraine's economy. However, Zelenskyy and his civil and military leaders are also preparing defenses and soliciting and receiving arms from the U.S.

Sunday's landing of a military cargo plane carrying anti-aircraft missiles from the United States and ammunition from NATO member Lithuania was a boost to the country's defenses against air attacks.

Zelenskyy donned military olive drab to a drill with tanks, helicopters and other equipment near Ukraine's border with Russian-annexed Crimea. Some in Kalanchak expressed surprise that Putin would send his troops into the country.

Boris Cherepenko, a resident of Moscow, stated that he doesn't believe Russia will attack the United States. He said, naming Russian regions, "I have friends at Sakhalin and Krasnodar." "I don’t believe it."

Others expressed doubts in Kyiv about whether or not any Russian move would have an economic, military, or even political impact. Alona Buznitskaya (a woman who spoke on a central street in the capital, bearing signs declaring "I love Ukraine", said that she was calm.

She said, "You should always be prepared for everything. Then you will have nothing that to fear."

The vast majority of the U.S. evidence that it claims is behind its warnings about possible Russian timing or planning has not been made public.

Jake Sullivan, U.S. national safety adviser, stated to CNN that Russia will not have the chance to surprise us here or to make a statement on Ukraine.

He said, "We will make sure that the world sees what we see as clearly and transparently as possible."

Russians have deployed special operations, missile, air and naval forces as well as supplies to support an invasion. Russia has moved six amphibious assault vessels into the Black Sea this week, increasing its ability to land on the coast.

Putin denies any intent to attack Ukraine. Russia demands that NATO keep ex-Soviet countries out. Russia also demands that NATO refrain from deploying weapons close to its borders and reduce the number of alliance forces from Eastern Europe. These requests are flatly rejected.

The White House did not suggest that Putin and Biden spoke more than an hour Saturday. However, it was clear that Putin and Biden were discussing the danger of war in Europe.

The company stated that KLM, a Dutch airline, has cancelled flights to Ukraine due to West's concerns. SkyUp, a charter airline from Ukraine, stated Sunday that its flight from Madeira (Portugal) to Kyiv was diverted towards the capital of Moldova.

Ukraine's Ukraerorukh, the country's air traffic safety agency, issued a statement declaring that the Black Sea airspace is a "zone potential danger" and recommending that planes not fly over it February 14-19.

After a conversation between Putin and Macron earlier in the day it came at a crucial moment for what has been the most serious security crisis between Russia's and the West since the Cold War. Officials in the United States believe that they have only days to stop an invasion of Ukraine and massive bloodshed in Ukraine.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will fly Monday to Kyiv to meet Zelenskyy, and Moscow on Tuesday for a meeting with Putin.

The U.S., NATO, and others have stated that they don't intend to send troops into Ukraine to fight Russia. However, an invasion and the resulting sanctions from the U.S. or other countries could have a far-reaching impact on energy supplies and the power balance in Europe.

The United States pulled most of its staff out of the Embassy in Kyiv, and asked all Americans to immediately leave Ukraine. Britain joined other European countries in urging its citizens to flee.

As a reassurance to NATO's eastern flank allies, Biden has increased the U.S. military presence. These additional soldiers are joining 1,700 already on their way to Poland. The U.S. Army is also moving 1,000 soldiers from Germany into Romania. Romania shares a border to Ukraine, like Poland.

Since 2014, Ukraine's Kremlin-friendly leader was forced from power by a popular uprising. Russia and Ukraine are locked in bitter conflict. Moscow responded by annexed the Crimean Peninsula, and then supported a separatist insurgency within eastern Ukraine where over 14,000 people have been killed.

France and Germany brokered a 2015 peace agreement that helped to end large-scale fighting. However, regular skirmishes continue and attempts to reach a political solution have been stalled.


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