Russia has never threatened Ukraine, says Russian Foreign Minister

A convoy of Russian armored vehicles moves along a highway in Crimea on Tuesday, January 18. Russia has concentrated around 100,000 troops with tanks and other heavy weapons near Ukraine in what the West fears could be the prelude to an invasion. (AP)

Tensions between Ukraine and Russia are at their highest in years, with a buildup of Russian troops near the two nations’ borders raising fears that Moscow could launch an invasion.

Ukraine has warned that Russia is trying to destabilize the country ahead of any planned military invasion. Western powers have repeatedly warned Russia against further aggressive moves against Ukraine.

The Kremlin denies plans to attack and argues that NATO support for Ukraine – including increased arms supplies and military training – poses a growing threat on the western flank of Russia.

The picture is complicated – but here’s a breakdown of what we know.

The situation:

The United States and NATO have described troop movements and concentrations in and around Ukraine as “unusual”.

As many as 100,000 Russian troops remained massed on the Ukrainian border, despite warnings from US President Biden and European leaders of dire consequences if Putin invaded. And US intelligence findings in December estimated that Russia could launch a military offensive in Ukraine “as early as early 2022”.

The story:

Tensions between Ukraine and Russia, two former Soviet states, escalated in late 2013 over a historic political and trade deal with the European Union. After then pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych suspended the talks – apparently under pressure from Moscow – weeks of protests in Kyiv turned violent.

Then, in March 2014, Russia annexed Crimea, an autonomous peninsula in southern Ukraine with strong Russian loyalties, on the pretext that it was defending its interests and those of Russian-speaking citizens.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said “there will be a high price for Russia to pay” if it invades NATO partner Ukraine again.

Read all the details here.