The U.S. believes that Russia may use joint military exercises inside Belarus as cover for an invasion of Ukraine from the north, according to a senior State Department official.
Why it matters: New deployments to the Belarus-Ukraine border in the coming weeks — in addition to the 100,000 Russian troops already encircling Ukraine from the north, east and south — could allow Russia to open up a new front less than 100 miles from the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.
- It would also position Russian troops close to the borders of NATO members Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.
What they’re saying: “I think what we should be concerned about is not whether it increases the intent [to attack Kyiv], but whether or not it increases the capability and their ability to launch that invasion of Ukraine with an intent to topple the government,” the senior State Department official told reporters.
- “What I know about the Kremlin and what I know about President Putin is that he is an opportunist and he creates opportunities,” the official stressed.
- “And so it is incredibly important that when we see these kinds of movements and when there is a concrete change in capabilities, that we acknowledge it and call it for what it is.”