The Russian Federation continues keeping its troops and military hardware near different sections of the border with Ukraine despite a statement by Russia's defense minister on the return of the forces to places of their permanent deployment.
Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Colonel General Ruslan Khomchak announced this at a meeting of the NATO Military Committee in the format with Ukraine.
According to him, such a concentration of Russian troops (forces) near the Ukrainian borders has not been recorded since 2014-2015, when armed confrontation in the occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions were in the hot phase.
"Despite the statement of the minister of defense of the Russian Federation on the return of troops to places of permanent deployment, Russia continues to keep about 80,000 personnel and a significant amount of weapons and military equipment near various parts of the border with Ukraine. Ships and boats transferred to reinforce the Russian group from the Northern Fleet and the Caspian Flotilla also continue to be in the Azov-Black Sea region," Khomchak said.
According to estimates by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, this allows Russia to quickly increase the offensive capabilities of groups of its armed forces to carry out offensive actions against Ukraine.
"The Ukrainian military leadership does not rule out the possibility that Russia may also use the territory and infrastructure of other states to increase political and military pressure on Ukraine. In addition, a potential threat is the joint strategic exercises of the armed forces of Russia and Belarus 'Zapad 2021' ('West 2021') scheduled for September," he said.
Russian military build-up along Ukraine borders, in occupied Crimea
- In March 2021, Russia 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.
- The United States and many other Western countries, the European Union, NATO expressed their support to Ukraine over these Russian steps.
- 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.
- 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.