Russia keeping 80K troops at border amid NATO exercise, US officials say

Source: The Hill | May 5, 2021 | Joseph Choi

Despite announcing last month that it would be ending its military buildup at the Ukraine border, Russia has kept around 80,000 troops at the border according to officials from NATO and the U.S. Department of Defense.

The New York Times reports that senior Defense officials estimated around 80,000 Russian troops were still at the Russia-Ukraine border, though a few thousand have been withdrawn.

Officials stated that although some had left the border, many units had left their trucks and armored vehicles, indicating they could return should Russian President Vladimir Putin send them back. This is the largest military Russian military presence at the Ukraine border since the 2014 annexation of Crimea.

A NATO official also told The Wall Street Journal that troops had been withdrawn, but noted many weapons had remained.

“So Russia’s military presence remains higher than it was before the recent escalation,” the official told the Journal.

A Ukrainian official told the Journal that Putin was playing a long game and was waiting for Western support of Ukraine to falter.

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