Russia may be 'probing' Biden administration with troop buildup at Ukrainian border

The Kremlin.
(Image credit: DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP via Getty Images)

The Biden administration could face two major international crises "at any moment," journalist and historian Anne Applebaum said Saturday. One of those would be a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, the other another Russian invasion of Ukraine. At the moment, the latter looks closer to reality, with an "unusual number" of Russian forces heading to the Ukrainian border and cease-fire agreements being violated in eastern Ukraine in recent days, Foreign Policy reports.

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America and its allies are taking the threat seriously. Boris Ruge, the vice chair of the Munich Security Conference, said Saturday that "there will be a price to pay" if Russia escalates, alluding to "consequences" for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which would transport natural gas from Russia to Germany.

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The overarching sense is that the Kremlin wants to see how the Biden administration reacts, FP writes. "They're probing, they're trying to see what [the U.S.] is going to do, what NATO would do, what the Ukrainians would do," Jim Townsend, a former U.S. deputy assistant secretary for Europe and NATO, told FP. "Is this a jumpy administration, or is this an administration that's going to act with resolve? They're doing all these things to assess where the new administration is."

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A source familiar with Ukranian military preparations told FP the assessment on the ground is that Moscow is indeed "conducting strategic posturing," but the possibility of a "sudden land grab" is real. Read more at Foreign Policy.

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Tim O'Donnell

Tim is a staff writer at The Week and has contributed to Bedford and Bowery and The New York Transatlantic. He is a graduate of Occidental College and NYU's journalism school. Tim enjoys writing about baseball, Europe, and extinct megafauna. He lives in New York City.