May 22, 2022

a contingent of American reinforcements arrives in Poland, Kiev puts the Russian threat into perspective

A large contingent of American reinforcements announced to reassure the allies of Eastern Europe in the face of Russian-Ukrainian tensions arrived on Sunday, February 6, at Rzeszow-Jasionka airport, in southeastern Poland, have found journalists from Agence France-Presse on the spot.

“Other soldiers will arrive in the coming hours”, said Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak in a statement broadcast by television at the very moment the aircraft touched down. According to him, the contingent of 1,700 soldiers of the 82e American airborne division will be deployed “in southeastern Poland, on NATO’s eastern flank”.

Logistical preparations began last week, and Major General Christopher Donahue, commander of this 82e division, composed of combat-capable forces, has already arrived in Poland. This deployment is intended for “improve readiness, interoperability in all areas with our Polish allies and, if necessary, defend any part of NATO”, said the general during a briefing, just after the landing of his soldiers and equipment.

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Washington does not want to “start a war”

It is “a prudent measure to collectively prevent any war objective. It’s defensive in nature, and it’s clearly about ensuring the protection of the whole Alliance.”, he insisted. ” President [Joe Biden] has been making it clear for months now that the United States is not sending troops to start a war or wage war on Russia in Ukraine”, repeated the adviser to the White House for national security, Jake Sullivan, on the Fox television channel, adding that it was about “defending NATO territory”.

The United States announced on Wednesday the dispatch of 3,000 additional American troops to Eastern Europe to defend NATO countries. “against all aggression”, in the midst of a diplomatic ballet aimed at convincing Moscow to withdraw its troops massed on the borders of Ukraine. The new American troops are in addition to the 8,500 soldiers placed on alert at the end of January by Mr Biden to be deployed in NATO’s rapid reaction force if needed.

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Jake Sullivan felt on NBC that“military escalation and invasion of Ukraine could happen at any time”. “We believe the Russians have deployed the capabilities to launch a major military operation in Ukraine, and we are working hard to prepare a response”, he explained. “President Biden brought our allies together, he strengthened and reassured our partners on the eastern flank, he provided material support to the Ukrainians, he offered the Russians a diplomatic path” to get out of the crisis, he listed.

Ukraine sees a diplomatic way out of the crisis

US intelligence estimates that Moscow already has 70% of the force needed for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine and may have sufficient capabilities, or 150,000 troops, to launch an offensive in two weeks, according to US officials. But the Ukrainian presidency ruled earlier on Sunday that a diplomatic way out of the crisis was still possible. “The chances of finding a diplomatic solution for de-escalation are considerably greater than the threat of further escalation”, said adviser to the head of the Ukrainian presidential administration, Mykhailo Podoliak.

“A large concentration of Russian troops near our borders (…) has been steady since last spring. But for “carry out massive psychological pressure”, Russia is carrying out “massive rotations”, to maneuvers and movements of armaments, the official continued in written comments. However, Ukraine and its Western allies must “be prepared for all scenarios, and we execute this task 100%”, further argued Mr. Podoliak.

Intelligence services have not established whether Russian President Vladimir Putin has made the decision to go on the offensive. However, the latter determined that he wanted to reserve all possible options, from the partial invasion of the separatist enclave of Donbass to the total invasion. If Mr. Putin chose the most radical option, he could surround Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, and overthrow President Volodymyr Zelensky in 48 hours, according to these officials.

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They warned that the conflict would have a considerable human cost, risking the death of 25,000 to 50,000 civilians, 5,000 to 25,000 Ukrainian soldiers and 3,000 to 10,000 Russian soldiers. It could also cause an influx of 1 million to 5 million refugees, mainly to Poland. For its part, Russia denies any hint of invasion, claiming that it only wants to guarantee its security.

The World with AFP