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NATO says Russia could be poised to invade Ukraine



(Reuters) - Russia has amassed around 20,000 combat-ready troops on Ukraine's eastern border and could use the pretext of a humanitarian or peace-keeping mission to invade, NATO said on Wednesday.

Stating the conflict in Ukraine was fueled by Russia, NATO said in a statement that the troop build-up had further escalated "a dangerous situation".

"We're not going to guess what's on Russia's mind, but we can see what Russia is doing on the ground – and that is of great concern. Russia has amassed around 20,000 combat-ready troops on Ukraine's eastern border," NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said in an emailed statement.

NATO was concerned that Moscow could use "the pretext of a humanitarian or peace-keeping mission as an excuse to send troops into Eastern Ukraine", she said.

Moscow denies Western accusations that it has armed and supported rebels who are fighting Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine. It announced new military exercises to take place all this week, involving bombers and warplanes on Monday in a show of strength near the border with Ukraine.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on Wednesday the threat of a direct intervention by Russia's military in Ukraine has risen over the last couple of days.

NATO said early this year that Russia had amassed some 40,000 troops close to the Ukraine border. By June, the number had dropped to less than 1,000, but then Russia started building the force up again.

A NATO military officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that early this month Russia had significantly increased the number of troops near the Russian border.

The roughly 20,000-strong troop presence included tanks, infantry, artillery, air defense systems, as well as logistics troops, special forces, and various aircraft, the officer said.

Previously, Russia has used military exercises as cover for intervention, military analysts say.

The European Union and the United States last week agreed tough new sanctions against Russia over its actions in Ukraine, marking a new phase in the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the Cold War.

The conflict worsened dramatically after the downing of Malaysian flight MH17 over rebel-held territory on July 17 by what Western countries say was a Russian-supplied missile.

(Reporting by Barbara Lewis and Tom Koerkemeier in Brussels; additional reporting by Adrian Croft in London; editing by Foo Yun Chee)

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lmao4891 August 06 2014 at 10:22 AM

Why does he need an excuses? Not like the rest of the world has the B***S to stop him and yes that includes Owhammy.

Flag Reply +20 rate up
11 replies
ram4131 August 06 2014 at 10:25 AM

Having an impotent resident of the White House really doesn't give Putin much of a concern.

Flag Reply +18 rate up
5 replies
laclone August 06 2014 at 10:29 AM

How about a 40.000 troop UN Exercise in Ukraine right about now?

Flag Reply +16 rate up
4 replies
vstlvlvaccaro August 06 2014 at 10:29 AM

This is what happens when the United States does not lead .... think this would have happened under Ronald Reagan?

Flag Reply +13 rate up
12 replies
billcdaly August 06 2014 at 10:25 AM

While I am not an advocate of getting involved here, it is easy to see how America's / Europe's perceived weakness is exacerbating this issue.

Flag Reply +12 rate up
2 replies
matthew.tureaud billcdaly August 06 2014 at 11:23 AM

Agreed, someone needs to show strength and put their foot down.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
4 replies
Kate billcdaly August 06 2014 at 3:41 PM

Easy to see just how? Because neither EU nor the US is willing to start another world war? It has nothing to do with perceived weakness. It has to do with common sense, but if Putin goes too far, there will be a lot more to come that could also be 'perceived as weakness,' if your idea of strength is confined to out right war.

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Spud August 06 2014 at 10:28 AM

So I take it the Imao4891 and Sealtheborder 11, you're just as keen as every other missile happy Russian to see us engage in WW3 that would undoubtedly include the use of Nuclear missiles?

Flag Reply +11 rate up
3 replies
Meh... August 06 2014 at 10:28 AM

All you righties poised to go down on Putin all this time still on your knees? You still support the hostile takeover of another country?

Flag Reply +10 rate up
6 replies
Elaine August 06 2014 at 10:28 AM

Putin isn't even trying to put a spin on his aggression now.

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Dirk Smith August 06 2014 at 10:27 AM

Putler's megalomania is becoming an issue for his third-world dictatorship. Using nationalism to divert from your one-dimensional economy will be disastrous for Russia. So much potential, but being run by a soviet antique that should have stepped down years ago.

Flag Reply +10 rate up
4 replies
Jacquie August 06 2014 at 12:16 PM

It appears that Hillary's "reset" button didn't work or Putin didn't care that obama "had more flexibily after the election".....Maybe Mitt was right about Russia when barack mocked him and said he was "living in the 80's".........

Flag Reply +5 rate up
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