"We are closely following the Russian units, which today number 127,000 people of the ground component, reaching 147,000 people with the naval and aviation component. We do not see a pullback or a declining number because the units currently in motion can be returned to their previous positions very quickly or redeployed to another area," Minister of Defence of Ukraine Oleksii Reznikov said at a briefing at Ukrinform news agency.
The Ukrainian military are ready for any scenario, he stressed.
"We do not underestimate the threat. Its level is really high. But we forecast all scenarios, choosing our tactics of behavior," the minister said.
According to him, one of the possible scenarios is that Russia will try to literally surround Ukraine with troops – from Brest to Taganrog by land, on two seas and in the temporarily occupied Crimea – and intensify activity in the temporarily occupied part of Moldova, in Transnistria.
"It was also expected that the Russian troops would escalate the situation in eastern Ukraine against this background, accompanied by other means of pressure: cyberattacks, mining of civilian facilities, attempts to arrange riots under various pretexts, etc.," Reznikov explained.
He stressed that those actions aimed to shatter Ukraine from within, to force it to capitulate, to change its political course and abandon the European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations, and eventually lose its independence.
Reznikov also noted that Ukraine expected the Russian troops to stay in Belarus after the exercises: "Because they had been transported from the Far East for several weeks clearly not to be trained for 10 days and then go back."
"Similarly, the ‘sudden’ exercises in Transnistria did not come as a surprise. We took appropriate response measures," the defence minister added.
According to him, Russian troops are currently actively maneuvering near Ukraine's borders, particularly in the temporarily occupied Crimea.
“Ships are moving in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. There was an attempt to block even the whole of Sea of Azov, as well as access to our ports in Odesa region. But they failed. Currently, three large landing ships and five warships and boats of other classes, including one missile boat, have entered the Sea of Azov under the pretext of participating in the exercises,” Reznikov said.
Commenting on the escalation in the Joint Forces Operation area, Reznikov noted that whereas 3 to 5 attacks per day had been recorded a month and a half before, already 60 attacks had been recorded on February 17, 66 – on February 18, and 134 – on February 19.
Earlier, Reznikov informed that 14 attacks had been recorded and one Ukrainian soldier was wounded in the Joint Forces Operation area today, February 21.
As reported, Russia continues to amass military units in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine and around its borders.
Let’s get started read our news at facebook messenger > > > Click here for subscribe