The world is worried Putin is about to invade Ukraine. Here’s why

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  • Russian President Vladimir Putin is closely watched by experts and officials.
  • They fear that Russia is planning to invade Ukraine.
  • Tens of thousands of Russian soldiers have reportedly gathered along the Ukrainian border.
  • Russia invaded and annexed Crimea, a part of Ukraine, in 2014.

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President Vladimir Putin is being closely monitored by experts and officials who fear Russia may be planning a military escalation with its neighbor Ukraine.

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tens of thousands of Russian soldiers have reportedly gathered at the border with Ukraine, and experts fear that Russia may be about to take its 2014 invasion and annexation of Crimea’s Ukrainian peninsula, prompting global outrage and sanctions on Moscow.

“We should all be very concerned, to be honest, I share this assessment,” Michael Baranowski, director and senior partner of the Warsaw office of the German Marshall Fund, told CNBC when asked whether Russia is a part of Ukraine. military action against , describing Russia’s highly strained relations with Ukraine as a conflict “below the threshold of war”.

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“This assessment is shared by many people here in Warsaw and Washington, DC,” he told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble on Wednesday. “We are seeing a very significant build-up in threats along the border with Ukraine. So it’s really the West An important moment for us to step up the pressure against Putin.”

Last week, US officials reportedly warned their European counterparts that Russia could weigh up a possible invasion of Ukraine. Defense Ministry in Kiev In early November it was said that about 90,000 soldiers were gathering at the border. whereas Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said last week that there were about 100,000 Russian troops on the border, Reuters reported,

For its part, when asked whether Russia is plotting a military offensive in Ukraine, In an interview with Rossiya 1 last weekend, Putin dismissed such a notion as “alarmist”.

The Associated Press reported that Russia, along with Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, said last week that “the movement of troops into our region should not be a cause for anyone’s concern.” CNBC has contacted Russia’s Defense Ministry for further comment.

When it comes to Ukraine, which used to be part of the Soviet Union before its dissolution in 1991, concerns over Russia’s possible next move come against a broader backdrop of deteriorating relations between Russia and its allies – and Europe. And America, on the other.

Tensions have risen on multiple fronts, from energy and political interference to cyber warfare and migrants, with Russia accusing Belarus of helping to stop a growing migrant crisis at the EU’s doorstep.

Russia’s expert Timothy Ashe, a senior emerging markets sovereign strategist at Bluebay Asset Management, said Tuesday that “it looks like Putin is ready for war with Ukraine. He has the motive, the opportunity and the weapons.”

Ash said, his motive was that “he wants Ukraine, because he never accepted its loss in 1991 with the collapse of the USSR, and sees Ukraine as the center of his vision of Greater Russia.”

The opportunity, Ash said, was that “the West is weak, divided and lacking focus. Biden focuses on China, Europe on gas, migrants and the Balkans. Ukraine is politically weak.”

And Putin’s potential weapon? “Well, an invasion force of several million in or around Ukraine, which already includes forces in the Donbass and Crimea. Add to that gas, migrants, political intrigue, cyber, space,” Ash said.

international concern

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week that Washington was concerned by reports of “unusual Russian military activity” near Russia’s border with Ukraine, warning that Russia should “make more aggressive acts against Ukraine, we are committed to”. , and Germany is committed, taking appropriate action.” He did not say what that action might have involved.

European leaders have continued to express their concerns this week.

The respective foreign ministers of Germany and France, Heiko Maas and Jean-Yves Le Drian, issued a statement on Tuesday pledging “unwavering support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

“Against the background of renewed concerns about Russian military and material movements near Ukraine, we call on Russia to exercise restraint and provide transparent information about its military activities. To undermine Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Any fresh effort will have dire consequences.” Ministers said.

Meanwhile, NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, said on Twitter on Monday that the military alliance was “closely monitoring the large and unusual concentration of Russian forces close to the borders of Ukraine. We ask Russia to be transparent, prevent escalation and tensions.” Calling for less.”

Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron told Putin on Monday that his country was ready to defend Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. But how far the EU and US will go to defend Ukraine is uncertain.

Last week, US President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen discussed Ukraine, saying they “fully supported Ukraine’s territorial integrity” but did not mention how far they went to defend the country. Will go

Ukraine has said that the West should send a strong message to Moscow not to take any aggressive action.

Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmitro Kuleba, said, “If we remain strong Western partners and they take resolute action, it will help us stop the war and stop the bloodshed, and that’s what we’re focusing on now.” BBC’s “Today” program Wednesday.

tensions on other fronts

Russia has been accused of helping to create another crisis at the border between Belarus and Poland, where crowds of mainly Middle Eastern migrants have gathered to enter the European Union.

Putin’s ally Belarus has been accused of “arming” migrants and evading the migrant crisis (essentially by inviting migrants into the country in the knowledge that they will attempt to enter the EU via Poland) so that to destabilize the bloc and distract attention from Russia. Army building.

Belarus denies that it has created the migrant crisis and Russia denies any involvement, with Putin’s press secretary telling reporters last week that “Russia – like other countries – is in the situation”. trying to get involved in solving.”

Another source of underlying tension is energy, with Russia accused of orchestrating the energy price crisis in Europe by halting supplies in recent months as it awaits regulatory greenlight for the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline that bypasses Ukraine into Europe. will send its gas supply to ,

German regulators this week suspended the pipeline’s certification process, saying its operating company needs to comply with German law before the pipeline can be approved. As a result, gas prices in Europe rose on Tuesday.

The pipeline is controversial in Europe with Poland and Ukraine saying that the project threatens Europe’s energy security (Ukraine will also lose out on significant gas transit fees when gas supplies enter Europe via its pipelines). ). The US (which competes with Russia for Europe’s gas market share) has also scorned the pipeline.

Nord Stream 2 is definitely a problem for Europe; On the one hand it relies on Russia’s gas imports (about 40% of the EU’s natural gas imports come from Russia) but it has vowed to protect Ukraine, a country with ambitions to join the EU. , to the annoyance of Russia.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned earlier this week that the EU needs to choose between committing Russian gas “mainly” and supporting Ukraine.

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