The Russian Armed Forces began traditional winter exercises, which this year will be held partially in the annexed Crimea, as well as in the Russian regions bordering Ukraine. According to the press service of the Russian Southern Military District, on Wednesday, December 1, more than 10 thousand servicemen from motorized rifle and tank units will take part in the maneuvers.
At the same time, the official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, said at a briefing that the Ukrainian Armed Forces have significantly increased their presence in the Donbas. "The Armed Forces of Ukraine are building up military force, deploying heavy equipment and personnel. According to some reports, the number of troops in the conflict zone has already reached 125 thousand people, and this, if anyone does not know, is half of the entire personnel of the Ukrainian Armed Forces," Zakharova said.
Speaking at the ceremony of presenting credentials to foreign ambassadors, Russian President Vladimir Putin called irresponsible accusations against Moscow about possible aggression against Ukraine. According to him, Russia "takes adequate military-technical actions." "It is not us who threaten someone, but threats are approaching our borders," the Russian president stressed.
He also pointed out that Russia and its partners will insist on the inadmissibility of NATO's enlargement to the east. "In dialogue with the United States and its allies, we will insist on developing specific agreements that exclude any further NATO’s enlargement to the east and the deployment of weapons systems in the immediate vicinity of the territory of the Russian Federation which are threatening us ," Putin said.
A bilateral meeting of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to be held on the sidelines of the OSCE Ministerial Council meeting on December 2-3 in Stockholm, said one of the US representatives during the meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Riga. One of the topics of discussion is expected to be the aggravation of the situation around Ukraine. In addition, as the press secretary of the Russian President noted, the foreign ministers will be able to discuss a future meeting between Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden. At the same time, according to the Kremlin’s representative, so far there has been no progress in organizing contacts between the presidents.
Since the end of October, reports have begun to appear in the Western media about Russia's military buildup along the borders of Ukraine. The last time a similar buildup happened was in the spring of 2021, which also caused serious concern in the world. But if the events in the spring were regarded as a show of force, the current situation may be a preparation for the actual invasion of the Donbas in eastern Ukraine, according to US intelligence agencies.
Moscow denies all accusations of preparing an attack on Ukraine and points to the increased activity of NATO near the Russian borders.