News / Europe

US: Russia Massing Troops on Ukraine Border

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk (l) greets a soldier during inspection of a Ukrainian Army position outside the eastern town of Slovyansk, July 16, 2014.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk (l) greets a soldier during inspection of a Ukrainian Army position outside the eastern town of Slovyansk, July 16, 2014.

The United States and NATO are growing increasingly concerned about Russia’s military posture.  The U.S. on Wednesday accused Russia of amassing thousands more troops along its border with Ukraine, as well as tanks and artillery.  

Workers in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slovyansk are starting the slow process of repairing damage from fighting.

During a visit Wednesday, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk accused Moscow of backing separatists who held the city until earlier this month.

“They created military conflict here. They, like vampires, suck money from us and kill our people," said Yatsenyuk.

And now U.S. defense officials are concerned Russia’s military posture could signal that more conflict is on the way.

“What’s most concerning really right now is the buildup, is these additional forces that are there," said Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren.

Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren says Russia now has 10,000 to 12,000 troops along the border with eastern Ukraine, up from fewer than 1,000 last month.

“We also have reason to believe that is some weaponry, possibly even some heavy weapons, that are flowing across the border into Ukraine," he said.

NATO officials tell VOA the sophistication of Russian weapons being sent to the separatists is increasing and that Moscow also appears to be supplying separatist forces with the necessary expertise to “employ them with a high degree of effectiveness.”

Jorge Benitez at the Atlantic Council says Russia’s refusal to change its behavior, despite growing economic sanctions, shows President Vladimir Putin still feels he has the upper hand.

“The U.S. is a $16 trillion economy and the EU is a $12 trillion economy and we can’t afford to be bullied by a $2 trillion gas station which is the Russian economy," said Benitez.

The U.S. and NATO have stepped up military exercises, and on Capitol Hill Wednesday, Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work made a case to lawmakers for funding a $1 billion European reassurance initiative.

“All of this money would go into allowing us to have more frequent forward deployments, more frequent exercises.  We’d be able to do improved infrastructure that would allow rapid reinforcement if that became necessary," said Work.

For now, U.S. military officials say it is clear Russian forces massing next to Ukraine are capable of conducting operations on either side of the border.

Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters and is national security correspondent. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

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Comment Sorting
by: U.S.N from: USA
July 18, 2014 5:49 PM
Russia=soviet union, PUTIN=STALIN, a bunch of godless commies.

by: Maria Thomas from: U.S.A.
July 17, 2014 11:06 AM
I was told once by a European, that Americans talk about money too much. I suppose it is because most of our anscestors were poor hungry, immigrants, usually with little social support. But you know at some point you have to see things in terms other than dollars and cents. We have a $17 trillion economy, EU has $12 trillion and RUssia a meager $2 trillion, which means just what? WIthout exploring or discussing real vulnerabilites just value in terms of dollars and cents....means nothing, plenty of super rich go bankrupt and belly up from unforseen consequences and market changes. The bigger they are, the harder they fall.....

by: olivier from: rwanda
July 17, 2014 5:20 AM
“The U.S. is a $16 trillion economy and the EU is a $12 trillion economy and we can’t afford to be bullied by a $2 trillion gas station which is the Russian economy," said Benitez. ( you are only being bullied for now...enjoy these last moment!)

by: meanbill from: USA
July 16, 2014 8:56 PM
THE WISE MAN said it; .. You just have to admire Putin, who has the US and NATO countries completely mystified on his intentions, on if he's going to attack, or if he's withdrawing, or anything, and they now have every military strategic expert they have, trying to figure out what Putin's military strategy is..... With the greatest (NSA) surveillance spy organization in the world, and the (CIA) spying on the Russian army just a quarter mile from the Ukraine border, the US and NATO intelligence services still hasn't a clue, on what the Russian army is doing? ..... NOW that's crazy, isn't it?

PS; IF ONLY the US and NATO countries had read the "Art of War" by Sun Tzu ...... REALLY

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