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Ukraine leaders call for calm and insist that invasion is not imminent

KYIV, Ukraine (AP), Ukraine's leaders tried Tuesday to reassure the nation of an imminent invasion by neighboring Russia. However, they also acknowledged that the threat was real and received a shipment U.S. military equipment.

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Ukraine leaders call for calm and insist that invasion is not imminent

Moscow denies that it is planning an attack, but it has gathered an estimated 100,000 troops in Ukraine over the past weeks and is conducting military drills in multiple Russian locations. This has prompted the United States and NATO allies to rush for war preparations.

Numerous rounds of high-stakes diplomacy failed to produce any breakthroughs. Tensions escalated even further this week. NATO stated that it was strengthening its deterrence within the Baltic Sea region and the U.S. placed 8,500 troops on increased alert for possible deployment to Europe as part a "response force". Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, stated that he was willing to send troops to Europe to support NATO allies.

The U.S. and its allies promised to strike Russia with sanctions unlike any other if Moscow sent its military to Ukraine. However, they didn't provide many details, stating that it was best to keep President Vladimir Putin guessing.

The U.S. State Department ordered all American families to leave Kyiv. It also stated that only non-essential embassy staff can leave. Britain also announced that it was withdrawing certain diplomats and dependents of its embassy. Families of Canadian diplomatic staff have also been instructed to leave.

Authorities in Ukraine have tried to project calm to avoid destabilizing the situation and panic, and many people have expressed doubts that there will soon be an invasion.

Oleksii Reznikov, the Defense Minister, stated that there is no reason to believe that Russia is planning to invade soon. He also noted that Russia's troops have not yet formed a "battle group" capable of forcing its way through the border.

He said, "Don't worry. Sleep well." "It's not necessary to pack your bags."

Reznikov's comments follow numerous assurances by President Volodymyr Zeleskyy and other officials. Zelenskyy assured the nation Monday that the situation was under control.

The defense minister admitted that there are "possible and likely future scenarios" in a late Monday interview.

Russia claims that Western accusations of it planning an attack are just a cover for NATO’s planned provocations. Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin's spokesperson, accused Tuesday again the U.S. "fomenting tensions” around Ukraine. This former Soviet state has been in conflict with Russia almost eight years.

After the deposed of the president of Kyiv that was friendly to the Kremlin, Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and supported a separatist movement in the country's eastern industrial heartland. Over 14,000 people have been killed in fighting between Ukrainian forces, Russia-backed rebels, and there has been no peaceful resolution.

Russia is seeking assurances from the West that NATO would never accept Ukraine as a member, and that it would restrict other actions such as the stationing of troops in countries that were part of the Soviet bloc. Many fear that a stalemate like the membership pledge will lead to war.

Moscow accused Ukraine of massing troops in rebel-controlled areas in the east to retake these regions by force. Kyiv rejected these accusations.

Analysts believe that Ukraine's leaders are stuck between trying to calm down the country and making sure it receives sufficient aid from the West in the event of an invasion.

Volodymyr Fesenko, a political analyst, stated that Ukraine's authorities were trying to stop panic and destabilization inside the country. Therefore, he made calming statements stating that there is no imminent Russian invasion threat.

He said that the Kremlin plans included undermining Ukraine's situation, creating fear and hysteria among Ukrainians and it was becoming increasingly difficult for authorities in Kyiv to control this snowball.

According to a Kyiv International Institute of Sociology survey, 48% of Ukrainians think an invasion is imminent. However, 39% of respondents said that they didn't believe it would happen despite being aware of the possibility of recent actions being part of information warfare. A nationwide survey of 1,205 respondents was conducted between Jan. 21-22 with a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points.

However, the crisis did not stop large groups of people from gathering in front of Kyiv's parliament to demand changes to the country’s tax regulations. They even clashed with police at one time.

Other Ukrainians viewed cautiously.

"Officially, we fear Russia's aggression or a war that will further impoverish the Ukrainians. Dmytro Urgol, a 46 year-old Kyiv construction worker, said that we would be forced to defend ourselves. "I'm ready to fight, but my whole family doesn’t want it. They live in tension." Each day the news scares me more.

U.S.-based troops were placed on alert for Europe Monday, suggesting that there is less hope that Putin will abandon what U.S. President Joe Biden has described as a threat to invading Ukraine.

According to Hanna Maliar, the shipment included equipment and munitions was part of a $200 million security aid package to Ukraine.

To strengthen a defense presence in Eastern Europe, the U.S. is coordinating its actions with those of other NATO members. Denmark will send a frigate and F-16 warplanes from Lithuania to Denmark; Spain will send four fighter jets and three ships to the Black Sea for NATO's naval forces. France is ready to send troops and support Romania.

According to two senior administration officials, Biden's national defense team has been working closely with European countries, the European Commission and suppliers around the world to create contingency plans in case Russia cuts off energy supplies. They spoke under the condition that they remain anonymous to discuss the discussions.

Europe could look to natural gas resources in North Africa, Asia, the Middle East and the United States if necessary. According to one official, the effort would require smaller quantities from many sources to compensate for a Russian cutoff.

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