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Ukraine: Large-scale Russian offensive possible in January

  • 3 Dec 2021

Ukraine's defence minister said the number of Russian troops at the border is estimated to be more than 94,000 while a Russian lawmaker stressed that Moscow is not preparing for an attack.

Repeated reports about Russia building up troops near Ukraine this year ignited concerns about the conflict intensifying. ( STR / AP )

Ukraine has estimated that Russia has amassed more than 94,000 troops near their borders and said there is a probability of a “large-scale escalation” in late January.

Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov told lawmakers on Friday that the number of Russian troops near Ukraine and in Russia-annexed Crimea is estimated to be 94,300.

“Our intelligence service analyses all scenarios, including the worst ones. It notes that a probability of a large-scale escalation on the part of Russia exists. The most probable time when (Russia) will be ready for the escalation is end of January,” Reznikov said.

The minister noted an escalation “is a probable scenario, but not certain, and our task is to avert it."

Reznikov said Ukraine wouldn't do anything to provoke Russia but is prepared to respond in case of an attack.

“Ukraine is most interested in political and diplomatic resolution,” the defense minister said.

Russian lawmaker Konstantin Kosachev reemphasised Friday that Russia is not planning to attack Ukraine.

“We don't have any plans to attack Ukraine. We don't have any heightened military activity near Ukraine's borders. There is no preparation underway for an offensive,” Kosachev told Russia's state TV channel Russia-24.

READ MORE: NATO: Russia will pay heavy price if it attacks Ukraine

Earlier this week, Russia traded fresh accusations and threats with Ukraine, the United States and its NATO allies.

The West threatened the Kremlin with the toughest sanctions yet if it launches an invasion of Ukraine.

Repeated reports about Russia building up troops near Ukraine this year ignited concerns about the conflict intensifying, with tensions growing in recent weeks.

Crimean deadlock

Russia and Ukraine have remained locked in a tense tug-of-war after Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and threw its weight behind a separatist insurgency in Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland, known as the Donbas.

More than 14,000 people have died in the fighting.

Russia, seeing the new US and European support for Ukraine’s military, sternly warned that any presence of NATO troops and weapons on Ukrainian soil represents a “red line.”

The Kremlin also expressed concern that Ukraine might use force to reclaim control of the country's rebel east.

READ MORE: Kremlin: Russia won't de-escalate due to Ukrainian troop presence

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