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NATO allies are reportedly concerned by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s decision to depart his country this weekend and go to Germany as the threat of Russian invasion looms over the country.
“Allies of the 30-member alliance are reportedly worried that Russia could exploit the president’s absence as tension in Eastern Europe has reached a boiling point not seen in decades,” Fox News reported. “Zelenskyy, who is set to meet with Vice President Kamala Harris on Saturday, is expected to be a key target if Russia does successfully invade Kyiv.”
The report comes as a massive explosion rocked a gas pipeline in Ukraine late on Friday, according to Reuters.
This is bad. All Russian media is reporting that there was an explosion to a gas pipeline in Luhansk. The fact that it is breaking across all Russian media is not a good sign pic.twitter.com/hNg6SqDouj
— Olga Lautman 🇺🇦 (@OlgaNYC1211) February 18, 2022
Democrat President Joe Biden said on Friday that he believes that Russian President Vladimir Putin has already made up his mind on whether he will invade Ukraine.
“We believe that they will target Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, a city of 2.8 million innocent people,” Biden said. “We’re calling out Russia’s plans loudly and repeatedly, not because we want a conflict, but because we’re doing everything in our power to remove any reason that Russia may give to justify invading Ukraine and prevent them from moving.”
A U.S. official told reporters on Friday that 40-50% of the up to 190,000 Russian soldiers near Ukraine’s borders are now “in an attack position.”
“They have uncoiled in tactical assembly in the last 48 hours,” the official said.
Tactical assembly points are areas next to the border where military units set up in advance of an attack. The official said Moscow had massed 125 battalion tactical groups close to the Ukraine border, compared to 60 in normal times and up from 80 at the beginning of February.
The increase in clashes between pro-Russian separatists in the southeastern Donbass region of Ukraine and Ukraine government forces, and inflammatory claims by officials in Russia and Donbass, show that “the destabilization campaign has begun,” the official said.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) explained during an interview with The Daily Wire this week the reason that Russia held off invading Ukraine in the past and is now primed to do so.
“Putin has long wanted to invade Ukraine. Putin has been very candid, he has described the dissolution of the Soviet Union as in his view, the most disastrous geopolitical event of the 20th century,” Cruz said. “And his ambitions have long been to reassemble the Soviet Union. He yearns for what he sees as the days of Soviet greatness. If you’re going to reassemble the Soviet Union, the first and most important part is Ukraine, the breadbasket of the former Soviet Union, Putin has invaded Ukraine before.”
“He did so in 2014, he invaded Crimea. But he stopped short, he didn’t invade the entirety of the country, and the reason he didn’t is because he needs Ukrainian energy infrastructure,” Cruz continued. “Russia’s major export is natural gas and oil, and that natural gas goes right through the middle of Ukraine on pipelines. If he invaded Ukraine, he risks damaging or destroying that energy infrastructure, which would mean that he could not get his natural gas to market in Europe. Accordingly, the next year in 2015, Putin began building a pipeline called Nord Stream 2, an undersea pipeline that goes directly from Russia to Germany, designed to circumvent Ukraine so he could march into Ukraine and not risk getting his gas to market.”
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