Tensions are high along Ukraine's eastern border as Russian troop movements hint at further military action. NATO, of which the U.S. is the largest supplier of both military personnel and funding, is now warning that Russia could stage an attack on Ukraine within three days. The alliance has responded to the perceived threat by suspending cooperation with Russia.
Reuters' Adrian Croft reports:
Calling the situation "incredibly concerning", NATO's supreme allied commander in Europe, U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, said NATO had spotted signs of movement by a very small part of the Russian force overnight but had no indication that this was part of a withdrawal to barracks.
The Russian force has aircraft and helicopter support as well as field hospitals and electronic warfare capabilities—"the entire suite that would be required to successfully have an incursion into Ukraine, should the decision be made," Breedlove said.
"We think it is ready to go and we think it could accomplish its objectives in between three and five days if directed to make the actions."
Estimates on the number of troops have been shaky. Ukrainian officials last week suggested there could be as many as 100,000 gearing up for an invasion. A different Reuters article noted earlier this week that the number appeared to be dropping, but explained that because "conscripts made up a large part of the Russian army … 'a certain number of conscripts could be stood down and swapped for others.'" Current estimates put it at 40,000.
Because of Russia's persistent aggression, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced yesterday:
We are suspending all practical cooperation with Russia, military and civilian. In the NATO-Russia Council, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, and the Partnership for Peace. At the same time we keep our diplomatic lines of communication open, and we are ready for ambassadorial or ministerial meetings in the NATO-Russia Council.
What will this cessation of cooperation look like? Although the organization hasn't divulged a specific plan, "the measures could include sending NATO soldiers and equipment to Eastern European allies, holding more exercises, ensuring NATO's rapid-reaction force could deploy more quickly, and reviewing NATO's military plans," explains Croft in another article.
For more Reason coverage of Ukraine, Crimea, and Russia, click here.