Here we go again with accusations of Russian troop build-up threatening Ukraine redux out of Washington, coming at a moment the US Navy is conducting drills in the Black Sea, and as tensions soar along the Belarus-EU border with Poland.
"With Washington closely monitoring a buildup of Russian forces near the Ukrainian border, U.S. officials have briefed EU counterparts on their concerns over a possible military operation, according to multiple people familiar with the matter," Bloomberg reports Thursday afternoon.
The alarm is being raised conveniently enough as Russia is being dragged politically into the ratcheting Mideast migrant standoff between Poland and Alexander Lukashenko's Belarus. Yesterday the Russian military flew a pair of Tu-22M3 bombers over Belarus in a show of solidarity with Moscow's ex-Soviet Republic ally.
Bloomberg writes further of the familiar refrain that's sounded every couple years following the original Crimea crisis: "Russia may be weighing a potential invasion of Ukraine as tensions flare between Moscow and the bloc over migrants and energy supplies" - however like with previous accusations there's little to nothing in the way of evidence.
Like with the same accusation of a troop build-up last spring, and claims last month of tens of thousands of "extra" Russian troops stationed near eastern Ukraine, the Kremlin has underscored it's able to move any troops around within its sovereign borders that it pleases.
The Bloomberg report admits that Washington "evidence" and intelligence for the new claims has yet be shared with European counterparts:
The assessments are believed to be based on information the U.S. hasn’t yet shared with European governments, which would have to happen before any decision is made on a collective response, the people said. They’re backed up by publicly-available evidence, according to officials familiar with the administration’s thinking.
The "public" evidence involves recent satellite imagery published in Western media outlets purporting to show Russian troops in the region across the border with Ukraine.
Russia took the rare step of dispatching two nuclear-capable strategic bombers to patrol Belarusian airspace in a show of support for its close ally amid rising tensions between Belarus and Poland over a migrant crisis at their mutual border https://t.co/AruEKAsgLE pic.twitter.com/lXOIFN18zV— Reuters (@Reuters) November 10, 2021
However, critics have pointed out that these images show Russian forces still significantly far away from any eastern Ukraine hotspots. Moscow has said further this remains an internal matter, just like the United States or any other country is free to move around their own forces within their borders wherever they want.