On Monday the United States condemned Russia's major troop deployment to its closest ally Belarus. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the UN Security Council that Russia is planning a major force build-up in the country of 30,000 troops within weeks, aimed at Ukraine.
She said "we've seen evidence that Russia intends to expand that presence to more than 30,000 troops near the Belarus border" with Ukraine as early as the start of February. Amb. Thomas-Greenfield emphasized this would put a large Russian force build-up "less than two hours north of Kyiv." However, Russia has said its troops are participating in pre-announced routine military exercises, dubbed 'Union Resolve 2022'. Amid continuing tensions with NATO and the US, Russia's defense ministry previewed the drills by putting out a video montage of some the early joint exercises in Belarus on Wednesday...
The fresh exercises involved mainly tank, artillery, and infantry movements, as well as helicopter drills. The larger 'Union Resolve' exercise is expected to kick off later this month, from February 10-20.
The Russian MoD described upon releasing the footage that "troops of both countries" are "practicing various techniques and methods of warfare in single combat formations.”
Moscow has consistently said over the past two months that it has no plans to invade Ukraine. Instead, it has accused the West of stoking tensions in order to provoke military conflict, which would inevitably trigger US-led sanctions on Russia, leading to its isolation and potentially devastating its economy.
On Wednesday, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, "We consistently criticize this stance and call on Washington and its allies on the European continent to give up this policy and assume a constructive, calm and balanced approach."
Both sides are now flexing, also given Biden authorized the deployment of 3,000 US troops to Eastern Europe, including to Poland and Romania, which Russia has condemned as "destructive" to the prospect of a peaceful resolution.
As expected, it appears Russia has deployed Krasukha-4 EW systems to Belarus, which were previously seen on trains. If Russia decides to escalate, these will be used to disrupt NATO recon/AWACS/JSTARS aircraft, which are likely providing intelligence support to Ukraine. https://t.co/iPXeuSb3g0— Rob Lee (@RALee85) February 2, 2022
Also of concern for Moscow is the new trilateral security pact in the works which will see a closer security relationship between Ukraine and Britain:
Britain, Poland and Ukraine are preparing a trilateral pact to strengthen regional security, Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said on Tuesday while hosting his Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki in Kyiv.
Poland and Britain have offered security aid to Ukraine in its standoff with Moscow after Russia massed tens of thousands of troops near Ukraine's borders in recent weeks. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due in Kyiv later on Tuesday.
This is said to be necessary due to "Russian aggression" - and will without doubt include more arms transfers and likely UK troop deployments and training of local forces. Already, the UK was first out of the gate last month with large arms transfers via military flights into Kiev, mostly believed to be anti-tank missiles and munitions.