Recently, the situation between Russia and Ukraine has worsened. Until recently, the United States could predict that Russia had placed more than 100,000 troops on the border with Ukraine.
Tuesday morning however, the Russian Ministry of Defense may announce that these troops will be withdrawn.
The relevant military units have now “completed their task”, stated a statement from the ministry, which was reproduced by Russian news agencies. How many soldiers will return to base remains unclear.
Jakub M. Godzimirski, senior researcher at NUPI, has researched Russia’s security policy for decades, and emphasizes that this statement should be taken with a pinch of salt.
– When you make such a statement, you must do something to support its credibility. They had so much power along this border that they could attract someone without harming their fighting force, Godzimirski told Nettavisen.
At the same time, he believes that the statement may mean that Russia appears willing to resume diplomatic negotiations, not a military strike.
Preparation for invasion
The increase in Russian troops near the Ukrainian border has been interpreted as preparation for an invasion, and many see it as an attempt by Russia to force acceptance of their request for Ukraine not to become a member of NATO.
However, this speculation has been vehemently denied by Russian authorities, who claim that troops have been deployed in connection with the national exercise.
Nevertheless, this escalation has been one of Russia’s biggest power-ups since its annexation of Crimea in 2014. Satellite imagery also reveals that Russia has moved weapons, missiles and other heavy weapons systems closer to the Ukrainian border.
Senior researcher Godzimirski, believes that arms at the border has become a strategic move from Russia, in an attempt to intimidate western countries.
– Russia has tried to intimidate western countries, by showing that they are ready for a military strike. It didn’t work the way they wanted, meaning they’d have to try other tools, Godzimirski told Nettavisen.
Attacking with provocation
In the past week, the United States has on several occasions claimed that a military invasion was imminent.
Godzimirski, on the other hand, believes that this will take a lot of time. Both because Russia knows that Ukraine can offer a lot of resistance with arms supplies from Europe, but also because western countries have given a clear message that such an invasion would have serious economic consequences.
In an interview with The Guardian On Monday, Russia’s ambassador to the European Union, Vladimir Tsizhov, stated that they would not attack Ukraine unless provoked.
– If Ukraine starts an attack on Russia, then you should not be surprised if we counterattack, he added in a statement that attracted the attention of Western countries.
At the same time, senior researcher Godzimirski believes that Russia has a lot to lose in military conflicts with neighboring countries.
“Russia has the desire and ability to use military force, there’s no doubting that – but I think in this situation, it’s about strengthening the negotiating position,” said Godzimirski.
He believes that further negotiations with Russia can ease tensions, and hopes diplomatic talks can lead to avoiding conflict based on misunderstandings and coincidences.
Because there is no doubt that Western countries have been working hard in diplomatic talks lately. Both the United States, France and Britain have met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a bid to de-escalate the conflict.
On Tuesday, German Prime Minister Olaf Scholz was also in Russia, in a bid to achieve the same.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba stated at a press conference on Tuesday morning that these talks were critical to the conflict.
– We and our allies have succeeded in preventing Russia from further escalation. “It’s already mid-February, and you can see that diplomacy is on the way,” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told a news conference.
This happened in the same period as Norway Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt himself, along with Defense Minister Odd Roger Enoksen, renewed Norway’s role in the conflict.
Among other things, it emerged that the government was preparing for a refugee crisis from Ukraine, and that Norway would send more troops to Lithuania.
Therefore, the Norwegian authorities will, together with their allies, continue to monitor the ongoing conflict.
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