Fears have been growing of an imminent invasion of the Donbas region by Russia, as it amasses troops and weapons on its borders with Ukraine. According to Ukraine’s army commander General Ruslan Khomchak, Moscow has deployed at least 28 battalion tactical groups to it border region with its Slavic neighbour and to the Crimea. This equates roughly to around 20,000 – 25,000 troops.
Furthermore, open source intelligence reports have shown the Russian military moving tanks, rocket artillery and short-range ballistic missiles to within 150 miles of its borders with the Ukraine.
However, a top US General has argued that Russia’s troop buildup on Ukraine’s eastern borders is a distraction and that the Kremlin is preparing for a different attack.
Lieutenant General Ben Hodges said in an interview with Espresso TV that Mr Putin has his eyes set on capturing the Black Sea Coast in the south.
The former commander of the United States Army Europe explained: “The Kremlin is interested in establishing full control over the Black Sea coast, including Mariupol, Odessa and Berdyansk.
“All this movement of Russian forces is most likely a diversionary manoeuvre to strike and capture the water canal connecting Crimea to the Dnieper River.
“And then, it will become a springboard for further capture of the Black Sea coast.”
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“The goal of the Russian Federation is to keep the situation in the region in a state of chaos.”
On Sunday, the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told NBC’s Chuck Todd that he had “real concerns” about Russia’s actions on the borders of Ukraine.
He warned Moscow that there would be “consequences” if it acted “recklessly, or aggressively” towards its neighbour.