Chief of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine Serhiy Deineko says he cannot rule out a possible invasion of Russian troops from the occupied Crimea despite the Kremlin's claim on withdrawal of forces following drills.
In an interview with the RBC Ukraine news agency, the official said Ukraine could not know for sure Russia's strategic military political intentions, only stating the facts of certain grouping of the Russian armed forces being deployed in particular locations.
"Theoretically, this is possible, the grouping may launch an invasion of Ukraine from the territory of thetemporarily occupied Crimea. The pullback has begun. But prior to this, there had been a build-up of forces already deployed there. You must understand it is impossible to simultaneously withdraw such a great number of military personnel, such an amount of weaponry and military hardware," he said.
At the same time, Deineko has not confirmed the impending threat to Ukraine coming from other directions, in particular, from Belarus and Transnistria.
Read alsoZelensky: Withdrawal of Russian troops should be measured by results"There was no critical build-up there," the official added.
Earlier, Deineko confirmed the partial withdrawal of troops from the territory of occupied Crimea, at the same time adding that no pullback of Russian troops was being observed from the areas close to the eastern border of Ukraine, in Voronezh region.
Russian troops massing along Ukraine's borders
- 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 preparing for military drills. Such actions pose a threat to Ukraine's military security.
- According to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, enemy troops are reinforcing their advanced units with reconnaissance teams and sniper pairs, involving Russian army instructors in personnel training. Russia-led forces' artillery units are reportedly on full alert in certain districts, including villages and towns in occupied Ukrainian territory.
- The U.S. European Command raised its alert status to the highest level after fighting had resumed between Russia-led forces and Ukrainian troops in Donetsk region.
- The U.S. Department of Defense said it was "aware of Russian troop movements" on Ukraine's borders and was concerned about recent escalations of Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine.
- The United States, finding reports of Russian military movements on Ukraine's border credible, asked Moscow to explain the "provocations" and is ready to engage.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Moscow was trying to put pressure on Kyiv by amassing its military forces along the Russian-Ukrainian border.
- On April 8, 2021, Khomchak assured the situation was under control, and the Ukrainian military was ready to respond to the escalation both in the temporarily occupied territory of Luhansk and Donetsk regions and along the entire Ukrainian-Russian border.
- 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.