The Ukrainian Defence Ministry has estimated the number of Russian troops on the border at 110,000 people. The country’s military is concerned about a possible offensive operation from Crimea to ensure water supply to the peninsula.
Defense Minister Andriy Taran voiced the new data on Russian troops on the border with Ukraine at a European Parliament’s subcommittee meeting. He said that additional units of Russian troops were approaching the border. He estimated the number of troops at 56 battalion tactical groups with 110,000 troops.
He described Ukraine’s concern about the probable preparation of regular Russian troops for an offensive operation from the Crimean direction “to ensure the supply of water to the peninsula.”
Taran said that Russia had increased its military contingent in the annexed Crimea to 42,000 troops integrated into joint strike formations. Besides, all types of aviation were additionally deployed at bases on the peninsula.
According to Ukraine’s assessment, the buildup of Russian forces for military exercises could potentially be used for “unpredictable, escalatory actions” emanating from Crimea, the minister said.
“In this context, on behalf of the ministry, I ask all our partners, all European countries to redouble your vigilance and multipurpose deterrence to keep Russia firmly within the boundaries of international law,” Taran said.
He informed that in 2021, Ukraine lost 28 soldiers who were killed in hostilities, and 68 servicemen were wounded.
The Kremlin accuses Kyiv of escalating the conflict in Donbas. Additionally, the deputy head of the Russian presidential administration, Dmitriy Kozak, admitted that Russia would protect “Russian citizens” in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions’ territories if Ukraine starts active hostilities. Simultaneously, Moscow described several countries’ concerns regarding the movement of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border as groundless.