According to its latest ongoing security assessment – shared with CNN by Ukrainian security sources – the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said “fighters and other military equipment, such as tanks, armed vehicles and ‘Iskander’ missiles remain near the border with Ukraine.” ”, After several Russian military exercises.
The assessment added that Russia regularly “redeploys and mobilizes its military units to maintain tensions in the region,” giving it the basis for “making rapid and quick reinforcements to the striking forces”. ,
However, Russian President Vladimir Putin has described the suggestion that Russia would invade Ukraine as “provocative”.
“Russia is pursuing a peaceful foreign policy. But it has a right to ensure its security,” he said during a televised news conference on Wednesday, emphasizing the Kremlin’s concern over the possibility of Ukraine joining NATO.
In a virtual meeting on Tuesday that turned tense at times, US President Joe Biden warned Putin about invading Ukraine, and Washington is preparing a series of harsh economic sanctions in the event of a Russian military attack. . does.
US officials later said Biden ended the talks without any clarity on whether Putin had made up his mind to launch an offensive.
Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksey Reznikov said on Monday that the build-up of Russian troops was an attempt to spread fear and unrest in Ukraine and prevent Kiev from moving towards NATO and EU membership.
“This gathering of their soldiers on our border, creating a process of instability inside our country, stopping us in our way is their main goal. But we go to a NATO ally, we’re going to the European Union,” Reznikov told CNN. ,
According to the latest Ukrainian assessment, Russia is also intensifying its operations with neighboring Belarus, which borders Ukraine to the north. The report said that some units of the Russian army live near the Russian border with Belarus “about 260 km (160 mi) from Ukraine’s state border”.
Russia has also intensified its intelligence on Ukraine, the report said, adding that the number of reconnaissance aircraft flights over the Ukrainian border over the Black Sea and the Azov Sea tripled from the same period last year. Is. ,
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to speak with Biden on Thursday.
Additional reporting by CNN’s Katharina Krebs in Kiev.