Live Briefing: Ukraine In The Crosshairs


Welcome to our live briefing on the massive buildup of Russian military forces near Ukraine’s border, and the diplomatic efforts under way to prevent a possible invasion by Moscow.

Here’s an overview — updated throughout the day– of what we know about the standoff between Moscow and Kyiv and threats of a further Russian move against its western neighbor.

Here Are The Latest Developments

  • French President Emmanuel Macron is meeting Russia’s Vladimir Putin in Moscow today while German Chancellor Olaf Scholz heads to the United States.
  • A top Russian diplomat says arms controls talks between Moscow and Washington will be largely guided by negotiations on its security demands.
  • Russia could invade Ukraine within days or weeks, the U.S. national-security adviser said in U.S. television interviews.
  • Thousands of Ukrainians took to the streets in Kharkiv to express national solidarity.
  • The first U.S. troops reinforcing NATO allies in Eastern Europe have arrived at a military base in southeastern Poland.
  • The United States says it has obtained intelligence indicating Russia has formed a plan to stage a false attack, which would serve as justification for an invasion.

Drumbeat Of War Reverberates On Romanian-Ukrainian Border

As Moscow Masses Troops On Ukraine’s Borders, Russians Give Views On Possible War

Podcast: The Mood In Ukraine As Diplomacy Continues

More diplomacy this week — but no sign of a letup in Moscow’s military buildup near Ukraine’s borders, and an alarming message from the United States on the possibility of a new Russian offensive. Chris Miller, a BuzzFeed News correspondent who is currently in Kyiv, joins host Steve Gutterman to discuss. Listen above.

‘War?! I Want A Post Office’: In A Remote Ukrainian Border Village, More Pressing Worries Than a New Russian Invasion

In a distant village surrounded on three sides by Russian territory, the remaining residents say they have more important things on their minds than the threat of a new military offensive: How about you fix the school bus? Or reopen the post office? Read the story by Mike Eckel and Maryan Kushnir here.

Photo Story: All Quiet On Ukraine’s Eastern Front

In Ukraine’s southeastern port city of Mariupol, life continues as normal even as locals say the chances of a Russian invasion are very real. Read the story and see the story by Amos Chapple here.

New Satellite Images Show Russia’s Continuing Military Buildup

In Photos: New Images Capture Russia Massing Weaponry Around Ukraine
Photo Gallery:In Photos: New Images Capture Russia Massing Weaponry Around Ukraine

On The Front Line With The ‘Badgers’: A Ukrainian Unit Waits — And Fights Boredom

When the guns are silent at night, “your mind goes around in circles.” For members of one Ukrainian Naval Infantry unit, tasked with watching their adversaries across a snowy expanse, the fight — for now — is as often as not against boredomRead the story by Mike Eckel and Maryan Kushnir here.

Twitter Spaces: Russia, Ukraine, And NATO — What’s Next?

Will diplomacy prevail, or will Russia’s sweeping geopolitical demands and mounting military buildup near Ukraine lead to a new bloodshed? A Twitter Spaces conversation addressed the motives, actions, and potential outcomes at one of the tensest moments since the Cold War. Hosted by RFE/RL’s Steve Gutterman. Listen to the discussion above.

As World Tenses For War, People Keep Dying In Eastern Ukraine Fighting

Tracking Down Advanced Russian Weaponry In The Eastern Ukraine Conflict Zone

When Russia’s ruling party urged the state last week to provide weaponry to separatists in eastern Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the proposal as “something new,” claiming that such assistance had never been sent to the region before. However, open-source investigators in Ukraine have been documenting the presence of advanced Russian weapons there since the conflict began in 2014. Read the story by Serhiy Horbatenko here.​

Ukrainian Army Trains With New Anti-Tank Weapons

Why Is China Closely Watching How The West Handles The Crisis?

Beijing sees the crisis sparked by a huge buildup of Russian forces near Ukraine’s border as a litmus test for U.S. power and an opportunity to strengthen its ties with Moscow, analysts say. Read the story by Reid Standish here.

A Russian Naval Assault Could Mean ‘Total Disaster’ For Ukraine’s Economy

Could Ukraine Survive A Russian Onslaught?

By all accounts, Ukraine’s armed forces are qualitatively better than they were seven years ago, when the military’s sorry shape was on display against Russia-backed fighters in the Donbas. But experts disagree how broad and deep the improvements are, and how much is possible when a country is still technically at war. 

What Are The Ukrainian Military’s Strengths?

Comparing Ukraine And Russia’s Military Might

A report by Global Firepower shows the disparities in military power between Ukraine and Russia.

soldierActive manpower200,000−19%−19%81%81%850,000
soldierReserve manpower250,000−50%−50%50%50%250,000
soldierParamilitary manpower50,000−17%−17%83%83%250,000
fighterjetAttack aircraft98−6%−6%94%94%1,511
aircraft1Transports aircraft32−7%−7%93%93%445
aircraft1Trainer aircraft71−12%−12%88%88%522
aircraft2Special-mission aircraft5−4%−4%96%96%132
armoredArmored vehicles12,303−29%−29%71%71%30,122
artilleryTowed artillery2,040−21%−21%79%79%7,571
tank2Self-propelled artillery1,067−14%−14%86%86%6,574
rocketlauncherMobile rocket launchers490−13%−13%87%87%3,391
navyFleet strength38−6%−6%94%94%605
moneyDefense budget$11.9 bi−7%−7%93%93%$154 bi

Note: Helicopters includes all such aircraft, including attack helicopters.
Published on January 21, 2022
Data as of January 2022Table: Giovana Faria  Source: Global Firepower 2022

Want To Know More About The Big Picture?

  • Did the West really promise Moscow that NATO would not expand? Well, it’s complicated. 
  • What is SWIFT and what happens if Russia is cut off from it? Is it the “nuclear option” some claim it to be? 
  • Are Ukraine’s bomb shelters ready for war? In one bunker, the telephones were not working, while another had been taken over by a tattoo parlor. 

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