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U.S. Claims Russia Has Ordered Final Preparations for Invasion

The United States and many European countries have charged for weeks that Putin has built up the forces he needs to invade Ukraine — a westward-looking democracy that has sought to move out of Russia’s orbit — and is now trying to create pretexts to invade.
A Ukrainian serviceman pauses while walking to a frontline position outside Popasna, in the Luhansk region, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022. Russia extended military drills near Ukraine's northern borders Sunday amid increased fears that two days of sustained shelling along the contact line between soldiers and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine could spark an invasion. Ukraine's president appealed for a cease-fire. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
A Ukrainian serviceman pauses while walking to a frontline position outside Popasna, in the Luhansk region, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022. Russia extended military drills near Ukraine’s northern borders Sunday amid increased fears that two days of sustained shelling along the contact line between soldiers and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine could spark an invasion. Ukraine’s president appealed for a cease-fire. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Russia on Sunday rescinded earlier pledges to pull tens of thousands of its troops back from Ukraine’s northern border, a move that U.S. leaders said put Russia another step closer to what they said was the planned invasion of Ukraine. Residents of Ukraine’s capital filled a gold-domed cathedral to pray for peace.

Russia’s action extends what it said were military exercises, originally set to end Sunday, that brought an estimated 30,000 Russian forces to Belarus, Ukraine’s neighbor to the north. They are among at least 150,000 Russian troops now deployed outside Ukraine’s borders, along with tanks, warplanes, artillery and other war materiel.

The continued deployment of the Russian forces in Belarus raised concern that Russia could send those troops to sweep down on the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, a city of about 3 million people less than a three-hour drive away.

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