Is a Russian military operation against Ukraine likely in the near future?

Russia Military Analysis

Following the November 25th Kerch Strait naval skirmish, in which Russia seized three Ukrainian boats,  Ukrainian leadership has issued warnings of a Russian buildup near Ukraine’s borders. These began in early December and have led to a media echo chamber of concerns that a Russian attack on Ukraine is imminent, in part bolstered by press releases from ISW. Actual evidence of Russian preparations for offensive operations, force movements indicating an unexpected buildup, or an imminent attack, is hard to come by. In this somewhat longer post I want to explore the existing evidence, what little there is, and examine a few conflict scenarios that may be within the realm of possibility in coming months.

Unfortunately this simmering conflict is subject to frequent false alarms, while actual points of escalation are rarely predicted, as was the case on November 25th. It is relatively easy to take a week’s worth of Russian troop…

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