Moscow gave an immediate response to US threats of heavy economic sanctions if it “uses its forces against Ukraine” and declared the start of large-scale military exercises along the entire Ukrainian border (including the border with Crimea).
At a solemn event in Sevastopol, Crimea, Russia‘s Deputy Minister of Defence, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, gave the order for the exercises to begin, while the Press Office of the Southern Military District of the Russian Federation reports that the exercises will take place at 30 training ranges in the Rostov, Astrakhan and Volgograd regions of the Kuban, in the Stavropol Territory, in Crimea and the North Caucasus.
The statement also notes that Russian military bases in the South Caucasus will be involved.
In addition to the soldiers in the air defence units, more than 10,000 soldiers from mechanised infantry units of other military directorates are participating in the exercises.
The Press Office of the Southern Military District of the Russian Federation published the start of the exercise
Kirillo Budanov, head of the main intelligence directorate of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence, gave an interview to Military Times on 21 November, in which he stated that Russia plans to occupy the southern and eastern regions of Ukraine in late January-early February 2022.
The attack will be carried out from the territory of Belarus, Crimea and from the east.
According to Ukrainian Pravda, on 30 November, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia should respond to NATO enlargement, in particular to oppose Ukraine‘s membership. He asked for legal guarantees that Ukraine would not be invited to join NATO.
The situation in Ukraine is hanging by a thread with the Americans behind it, pushing it to escalate, obviously because they want to provoke a reaction from Moscow.
Perhaps because they believe that Moscow will not dare to go ahead with an older geopolitical plan aimed at annexing the Russian-speaking Ukrainian regions from Kharkiv to Odessa with the aim of uniting all the territories up to Russian-speaking Transnistria.
This would completely cut off the Northern Black Sea from NATO, while Russian forces would be at arm‘s length from NATO bases in Romania and Bulgaria, something Moscow would love to have.