By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent
It confirms previous Worthy News reporting citing a U.S. security official that many are already in Ukraine, including in the east of the country where overnight the night was punctuated by explosions.
Burts of gunfire was heard in as many as 30 villages and towns along a 250-mile (400 kilometers) stretch of land separating Ukrainian and Russia-backed forces. “We assess that Russia probably has massed between 169,000-190,000 personnel in and near Ukraine as compared with about 100,000 on Jan. 30,” said a statement by the U.S. mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, calling it “the most significant military mobilization in Europe since the Second World War.”
U.S. President Joe Biden prepared to talk with NATO military alliance allies by phone on Friday to discuss the perceived threat to Ukraine amid the tense fighting between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian government forces.
The U.S. confirmed previous Worthy News reporting citing an American security official that Russian forces are already in Ukraine, including in the east of the country where overnight the night was punctuated by explosions.
Amid the fighting, a humanitarian convoy was reportedly hit by shelling, and pro-Russian rebels were evacuating civilians from the conflict zone. An intense explosion also reverberated throughout the eastern city of Donetsk, but it wasn’t clear how many casualties there were in the incidents.
The Kremlin once declared massive nuclear drills to flex its military muscle, and President Vladimir Putin pledged to protect Russia’s national interests against what it sees as encroaching Western threats.
The developments came as Germany’s Munich Security Conference, with delegates from around the world, opened without Russia. While concerns grew in Europe, fears of an imminent full scale Russian invasion overshadowed the high-profile annual trans-Atlantic security gathering taking place from Friday to Sunday.
Germany’s foreign minister told the Conference that an invasion could mean the end of Nord Stream 2, a natural-gas pipeline running from Russia to Germany.
“We in Germany are prepared to pay a high price economically. That’s why everything is on the table — also Nord Stream 2,” the minister, Annalena Baerbock, told the Munich Security Conference. Baerbock’s comments departed from the German government’s public comments so far during the Ukraine crisis, which refrained from mentioning the pipeline as part of sanctions.
Despite mounting what U.S. officials view as mounting evidence of Russian military operations in Ukraine, Moscow says it has no intention to invade its neighbor. But Russia seeks “security guarantees” such as a halt to NATO expansion eastwards, including Ukraine. The West has officially rejected these demands through the Biden administration says it is open for dialogue.
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