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17 Feb, 2022 20:22

Russia likely to invade Ukraine after February 20 – media

Claims that February 16 was planned invasion date were unrealistic, analysts say
Russia likely to invade Ukraine after February 20 – media

Failed predictions that Russia would invade Ukraine on February 16 were unrealistic, and the key date to focus on is actually February 20, American political analysts have claimed, blaming “hype” for having caused US officials to focus on the wrong date.

Earlier this month, numerous western media outlets claimed that Russia was planning to invade Ukraine in the early hours of Wednesday, citing claims by anonymous officials that US President Joe Biden had warned members of the NATO bloc that an invasion was imminent. This date passed without event.

However, according to the analysts who spoke to Politico, obsession around February 16 “distracted attention from actual key dates.” The real time to focus on begins on Sunday, they claimed.

“After February 20 was always the more important time frame,” said Michael Kofman, a military expert at American think tank CNA, an organization that works directly with the US government and many of its agencies.

February 20 is the scheduled end date of the joint Russian and Belarusian military training drills, which have been taking place this month on the territory of Belarus, near the border of Ukraine. This day is also the final day of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, as well as the last session of the Munich Security Conference, which Russia last week said it has no official plans to attend.

According to Kofman, the end of these exercises, dubbed ‘Union Resolve,’ will be a better indicator of the Kremlin’s military intentions. If soldiers and equipment remain on the border, it could point to potential plans to invade Ukraine.

“It’s a useful date to see if they’re lying or they’re not,” Kofman said. US allegations of a potential Russian attack on Sunday have been met with scorn from Moscow, with Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov on Thursday, calling the Western claims of an impending invasion “yet another fake.”

Two days earlier, the Russian defense ministry announced that large numbers of soldiers were withdrawing from their deployments to their bases, as training exercises draw to a close.