Lieutenant-Colonel Pale Yedestbo of the War College at the Norwegian Defense College described the position of Russian forces around Ukraine as a “illustrative assembly for an offensive”.
– They are ready. On Earth, some large agglomerations are now emerging, Ydstebø tells Dagbladet.
In recent months, Russia has amassed a force of about 100,000 soldiers near the border with Ukraine. They also increased the number of soldiers inside the Crimea, according to the division commander – and in Donetsk, that is, inside Ukraine, there are now an estimated 15,000 separatist soldiers ready.
These 15,000 soldiers are heavily armed, and are a constant threat that Ukraine must deal with, says Ydstebø.
– They’re technically separatists, but they’re still part of the overall threat, he adds.
On Friday last week, the Ukrainian intelligence service alleged that Russia secretly brought defensive equipment into Ukrainian territory.
Among other things, Russian forces were said to have deployed several tanks and artillery, according to Ukrainian intelligence. However, no specific locations have been reported.
– stretches the forehead
Over the weekend, Russian troops began arriving in Belarus to participate in a major exercise from February 10-20. On Tuesday, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin said fighters and air defense units would also take part in the exercises.
Soldiers are being pulled out from bases in eastern Russia, and will exercise alongside Belarusian forces in response to “external threats,” according to the NTB.
The total number of Russian soldiers now in Belarus is unknown, according to Lieutenant Colonel Yedstepo, head of the Land Force Department at the Military School.
– I did not see any concrete numbers here, but through these exercises, it is clear that Russia is strengthening its illustrative position for the invasion of Ukraine, he said.
“By transferring troops to Belarus, Russia is almost expanding its front and threatening Western Ukraine as well,” adds the presenter.
– The starting point for the attack
In addition, the Russians now have several ships in the Black Sea.
The Black Sea Fleet also engages in activities in this game, says Ydstebø, who thinks the whole of this means Ukraine is now almost besieged by Russian forces.
– He says that the country is surrounded on three sides.
On Friday, Iran, Russia and China began a joint naval exercise in the northern Indian Ocean. The exercises will cover 17,000 square kilometers in the northern part of the Indian Ocean.
– It’s a short distance from practice to attack. It is not uncommon, and there is concern now that the exercises can be used as a springboard for an attack. This may also be part of the signals Russia now wants to send to the West, says Ydstebø.
– Based on the big picture, the Russians now have what they need all over Ukraine.
On Monday, Ireland also protested against the exercises announced by Russia in international waters off the coast of Ireland. The area falls within the Economic Zone of Ireland.
Threatens the southern parts
Earlier in the week, Russia announced in open sources that it will conduct a number of naval military exercises in the coming time. The regions declared are the Atlantic, the Pacific, the North and the Mediterranean, with the participation of more than 140 warships and support ships.
The number of ships deployed by the Russians now, the commander of the division does not have Yedestbo, but says:
– The Russian Navy in the Black Sea is superior to the Ukrainian Navy anyway, and can especially threaten the southern parts of Ukraine, such as the important city of Odessa. The Black Sea Fleet could land Marines along the Black Sea coast of Ukraine, creating even greater uncertainty. In addition, Russian warships can launch cruise missiles and other missiles at targets across Ukraine.
He added that it is only on the Ukrainian border in the southwest, where there are now no Russian forces.
– He says that they are not present on the western borders with Bulgaria, Poland, Moldova and Hungary.
350 fighter planes
Russia has always had military camps in fixed positions near Ukraine, according to Ydstebø — and many of its troops deployed on the border have been there since last spring, he says.
– However, there was no talk of the same level as now, as new troops have been added in recent months, he said.
Of the roughly 100,000 soldiers, there are both combat and support forces a short distance from the Ukrainian border, according to Ydstebø.
– They also have 350 combat aircraft ready, which could support a possible invasion of Ukraine, he points out.
Off the Norwegian coast
Yesterday, the Norwegian Armed Forces announced that a Norwegian P-3C Orion has been spotted Five Russian warships off the Norwegian coast. Armed forces reconnaissance planes were on a routine mission, and followed several Russian warships off the Norwegian coast on Tuesday morning.
At around 12.20 on Tuesday, a Norwegian naval patrol aircraft P-3C Orion flew on a routine mission in the High North. The armed forces announced that the Norwegian Orion, stationed in Andoa on a daily basis, followed a group of Russian ships south along the Norwegian coast in the waters north of Finnmark.
However, this news did not particularly alarm Lieutenant Colonel Edstepo.
It can be a completely normal activity in international waters. I read it like that, he says.
Also ships seen in the Baltic Sea earlier in January, which led to one among others Swedish response to GotlandIt is considered a normal activity.
– The Russians sometimes do some training there, so I read that also in general, he says.
The question everyone is now asking is what is the Russian motive, and what is the political purpose of rearmament.
– There is a lot of speculation here. Is there a way to pressure to reach agreements with the United States and NATO? Is military rearmament only used as military diplomacy where one threatens to use military force to pressure behind a political process? Or are there significant motives behind the actions? Yedistibo says Putin has ambitions to reset the European security culture, in which great powers will decide small states.
What we are talking about now indicates in this case that the Russians are getting the attention they want. But whether Russia really wants to go to war with or against Ukraine, only Russia at best knows something about it, and there is a dynamic in the development of the situation that can influence the decision in one way or another.
He describes the situation as very tense.
Perhaps we should go back to the Berlin crisis and the Cold War to find something similar, he says.
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