Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula ignited the tensest standoff between Moscow and the West since the Cold War. The region remains deadlocked, following years of conflict between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists in the country’s east. Since November, the U.S. has been warning European allies that Russia may be preparing to invade Ukraine, massing almost 130,000 troops near the border and staging the largest joint military drills in years in neighboring Belarus. Russia has repeatedly denied any intention to attack Ukraine, saying troop movements on its territory are an internal matter.
The U.S. has been raising the alarm with European Union nations about a buildup of Russian forces near Ukraine, sharing intelligence showing possible plans for a three-pronged invasion from Crimea, Russia and via Belarus. U.S. President Joe Biden told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in January that there was a “distinct possibility that the Russians could invade Ukraine in February,” according to U.S. National Security Council spokesperson Emily Horne.