Senior US Senator Says The Bear Is Hunkering Down In, Near Ukraine

Russian artillery systems fire during military exercises in the southern Russia's Volgograd region last Thursday. Russian troops deployed close to the Ukrainian border will return to base after completing their exercises, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said then. But US Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., says the opposite is true. (ANDREY KRONBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

Russian artillery systems fire during military exercises in the southern Russia’s Volgograd region last Thursday. Russian troops deployed close to the Ukrainian border will return to base after completing their exercises, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said then. But US Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., says the opposite is true. (ANDREY KRONBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

How long does Russian President Vladimir Putin intend to keep tens of thousands of military troops inside Crimea or camped out along his country’s border with Ukraine? A long time, according to a senior US lawmaker who says the Bear is hunkering down.

One day after House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee Chairman Mike Turner, R-Ohio, said senior US military officials have told lawmakers up to 80,000 Russian troops are amassed on Russian soil near Ukraine, Sen. Bob Corker said there is intelligence showing those forces aren’t going anywhere any time soon.

“Russia had indicated it was going to … disassemble these troops,” Corker said Wednesday during a television interview, referring to statement senior Russian officials made last week.

But that hasn’t happened. And Corker, the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, says there is evidence showing Russia is taking steps to do quite the opposite:

“What we’re seeing is supply lines being created for these troops, medical facilities being created for these troops.”

Both are signs of a sustained military operation, suggesting Putin is, as former US Defense Secretary Bob Gates has said, playing a very long game in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

John T. Bennett

John T. Bennett

Bennett is the Editor of Defense News' CongressWatch channel. He has a Masters degree in Global Security Studies from Johns Hopkins University.
John T. Bennett
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