- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Russian combat forces are again building their presence along the Ukraine border, fueling speculation that military activity there could escalate.

At the height of the tension between the countries, tens of thousands of Russian forces were positioned at the border, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren said. Within the past several weeks, after Russia’s withdrawal from the area, as 1,000 troops have been stationed there, he noted.

But as dynamics shift on the ground, so ha Russia’s promise to de-escalate tensions in the region, Col. Warren said. About 10,000 troops are on the ground now, posing a new threat for fragile Ukraine, he said.

“We believe there are now between 10 and 12,000 Russian troops on the border,” he said. “We also have reason to believe that there is some weaponry — possibly some heavy weapons — that are flown across the border into Ukraine for use by the separatists. So we have seen evidence that the Russians are continuing to support the separatists.”

For the U.S. military, this is unacceptable, according to Col. Warren.

“We continue to call on the Russians to stop supporting the separatists and to begin executing actions that are in line with their words,” he said. “They have long said that they support the cease fire in Ukraine. They have said that they want stability in Ukraine. They have said that they want to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine. We have not seen actions that line up with those words.”