Russia: Threat of invasion of Ukraine discussed by Ellwood
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Western powers have been set on edge by Russia stationing tens of thousands of troops close to the border with Ukraine, sparking fears of a repeat of the 2014 annexation of Crimea. Last week, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence confirmed that 90,000 Russian troops were stationed across its border, for reasons that are, at this stage, not entirely clear.
The USA has warned European allies that Russia could attempt another invasion, as tens of thousands of troops are being stationed along the border, less than 10 years after the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Satellite imagery gathered by the US shows Russian tank and artillery units have been moved closer to the Russia-Ukraine border over the course of the past month.
The deployment has caused enough of a concern among Western powers that CIA director William Burns was dispatched to Moscow last week.
The build-up risks unsettling what has been a comparatively amicable period in US-Russia relations.
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Officials from both countries have been somewhat co-operating on the Iran nuclear deal, as well as their own nuclear stockpiles.
Tony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, said: “We don’t have clarity into Moscow’s intentions, but we do know its playbook, and our concern is that Russia may make the serious mistake of attempting to rehash what it undertook back in 2014.
“We are concerned with the reports of the unusual Russian activity near Ukraine.
“We’re looking at this very, very closely. We’re also consulting very closely with allies and partners.”
It comes as Russia has been accused of orchestrating a migrant crisis at the border between Poland and its close ally Belarus this week.
How strong is Russia’s military?
Russia has an estimated 3,013,628 military personnel across its entire combined forces.
Across its arsenal, it has 20,050 tanks and 4,441 aircraft, according to EU state.
According to Global Firepower, Russia has one aircraft carrier, 16 destroyers, 62 submarines and 27,038 armoured vehicles.
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For comparison, the USA, which boasts the world’s largest military, has 20 aircraft carriers, 91 destroyers, 66 submarines and 39,253 armoured vehicles.
According to ArmedForces.eu, Russia has a military budget of $61.7 billion – a measly amount compared with the US, which spends $738 billion a year on its forces.
Since the fall of the USSR, Russia has continued to man its armed forces with conscripts.
Russia has had a conscription army since 1918 – and hundreds of thousands of men between 18 and 27 years old are drafted into the military each year.
These recruits will serve in the army, Ministry of Internal Affairs forces, border troops, and other branches of Russia’s military arsenal.
Conscription in Russia has been heavily criticised by internal critics – as some can pay bribes to avoid doing the time.
Other ways to avoid the call-up are medical exemptions and educational reasons.
Those who are drafted in to serve remain for 12 months – a reduction on the two-year term reduced in 2008 reforms.
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