Large-scale escalation by Russia possible in late Jan - Reznikov
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov has said that Ukrainian intelligence is analyzing all scenarios for a possible large-scale invasion by Russia.
According to an Ukrinform correspondent, he stated this in his report in the Verkhovna Rada on Friday, December 3.
Reznikov said the total number of troops in Russia and in the temporarily occupied territories, which may be used for escalation, is now estimated at 94,300.
"Our intelligence is analyzing all scenarios, including the worst-case scenario. It says that there is a possibility of large-scale escalation by Russia. The most probable time when [Russia] is ready for escalation will be the end of January," he said.
At the same time, he stressed that this is a probable scenario, and the main task today is to prevent it from happening.
"The better we work – alone and together with our partners – the less the risk of escalation. The way is to make the price of possible escalation unacceptable for the aggressor. Ukraine is most interested in the political and diplomatic scenario of the settlement. In principle, there can be no forceful provocations on our part. At the same time, the way to 'pacify the aggressor' is not being considered. If necessary, Ukraine will fight back," Reznikov said.
During his speech, Reznikov reiterated that the vision of the next preparations by Russia coincides with assessments made by foreign partners, and the attention of international partners to Russia's aggression and threat helps focus on forming a joint response.
According to him, this year Russia uses the tactics of a kind of waves, amassing its troops near Ukraine's borders and then pulling them back to their permanent bases, leaving the equipment. This allows the enemy to reduce the time for its deployment.
"In April and September this year, Russia pulled than 50 battalion tactical groups to our borders. Currently, 41 battalion tactical groups are in combat readiness around Ukraine and in the temporarily occupied Crimea. Of these, 33 stay on a permanent basis and eight have been additionally transferred to Crimea. The total number of troops in Russia, as well as in the temporarily occupied territories, which may be used for escalation, is now estimated at 94,300 people," Reznikov said.
He noted that the enemy is currently starting the winter training period, so military exercises have begun near Ukraine – intelligence has been intensified, communications are being checked and camouflage measures are being taken. Last week, groups in the Bryansk and Smolensk regions were reinforced with tanks and armored vehicles.
"If two large landing ships of the Baltic Fleet enter the Black Sea from the Mediterranean Sea, their total number in the region will grow to nine. Together with boats, this will allow the enemy to simultaneously transfer up to 3,000 servicemen and up to 250 armored combat vehicles. This keeps the level of tensions in the Azov-Black Sea region," Reznikov said.
At the same time, he stressed that not only Ukraine but the whole world is watching these maneuvers, so there will be no surprises.