Russian backed separatists based out of eastern Ukraine have accused Kyiv of preparing military hardware for a strike, further raising fears of Moscow deciding to invade. 

An unnamed representative from the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR), the self-proclaimed state said to RIA Novosti that weapons were being moved to the contact lines to form strike groups. He described “multiple launch rocket systems, armoured formations and equipment for destroying minefields” had already arrived in these areas. 

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Notably, the DNR has long been part of the conflict unfurling in the Donbas region since 2014. Earlier the self-proclaimed state of Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) also made a similar claim about the presence of the Ukrainian military. Moscow and Kyiv have long been accusing each other of provocations. Military experts believe that Moscow annexing separatist republics could be one of the strategies in the Kremlin’s playbook which ranges from diplomatically ending the tensions to launching a full-blown invasion. 

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In December 2021, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Ukraine of ‘genocide’ against the Russian population in Donbas, and since 2014, the presence of Russian forces has been suspected, though Moscow has denied any involvement in the region. Moreover, Russia has now amassed nearly 10,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders, but Moscow has officially denied having any intentions to evade. 

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In the political flex, Moscow is waiting for NATO to capitulate and block Ukraine’s entry into the organization. It also seeks a reduction in NATO troop presence in eastern Europe. Meanwhile, the Joe Biden-led US government has rejected Moscow’s demand to block Ukraine’s entry, choosing to respect the country’s sovereign rights. The US is also considering sending 5,000 troops to eastern Europe in response to increased Russian military presence. NATO has also sent more troops while deciding to remain completely united against Moscow. The European Union (EU) also declared an aid package for Ukraine amid the growing tensions.