Former Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) of Ukraine Oleksandr Danyliuk says Russia has not abandoned its plans to seize Ukraine.
"All those developments are not over yet. We could see only the tip of the iceberg, external manifestations. In fact, there is a strategy of Russia, there is a strategy of [U.S. President Joe] Biden. And it is clear these are certain maneuvers within the framework of this strategy. I am sure there were also several signals, an exchange of signals from each side during the [Putin-Biden] talk between them. I understand it this way: the troops have been withdrawn, but this does not mean that Russia has abandoned its plans," he told TV Channel Ukraina 24.
"It's too early to get relaxed, on the contrary, when everyone seems to be relaxed, Russia may change the focus and try to achieve what it wanted in other ways," he said.
In his opinion, the next step may be in Belarus.
"The key risk now is in the diplomatic direction since it is very important there that the president and his team have a strong, well-thought-out position several steps ahead. I think the next step may be in Belarus. To get the Russian army on the northern borders – this will definitely not improve the situation for us," Danyliuk added.
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- On March 30, 2021, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Colonel-General Ruslan Khomchak said Russia had deployed 28 battalion tactical groups along the state border of Ukraine and in the temporarily occupied territories. It is also said to be planning to bring up to 25 battalion tactical groups under the guise of preparations for military drills.
- Fifteen warships of Russia's Caspian Flotilla entered the Black Sea.
- Russia also relocated Su-25SM3 warplanes from Russia's Stavropol Krai (Territory) to occupied Crimea.
- On April 20, 2021, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the number of Russian troops on the borders with Ukraine might increase to over 120,000 servicemen within a week.
- On April 22, 2021, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said his country would begin the withdrawal of troops, which had taken part in military exercises in occupied Crimea and near the borders of Ukraine, to their permanent bases in the Southern and Western Military Districts.