The total number of troops on the territory of the Russian Federation, as well as in the temporarily occupied territories that can be used for escalation, is now estimated at 94,300 people, Defense Minister of Ukraine Oleksiy Reznikov said.
"Now, near Ukraine and in the temporarily occupied Crimea, 41 battalion-tactical groups are in constant readiness, of which 33 are on a permanent basis, while eight groups have been additionally transferred to Crimea. The total number of troops on the territory of the Russian Federation, as well as in temporarily occupied territories, which may be involved for escalation, is estimated at 94,300 today," he said during the "hour of questions to the government" in the Verkhovna Rada in Kyiv on Friday.
Most probably, Russia will be ready to escalate tensions in the end of January, he said.
"Our intelligence is analyzing all possible scenarios, including the worst-case ones. The intelligence says that a possibility of large-scale escalation by Russia exists. Most probably, it will be ready for an escalation in the end of January. Please note that an escalation is a probable but not necessary scenario, and it is our goal to avert it," Reznikov said.
In order to avert an escalation of tensions, Ukraine and its international partners should make the price of escalation "unacceptable for the aggressor," he said.
"Ukraine has a keen interest in a political and diplomatic settlement. There can be no military provocations on our part in principle. At the same time, an option of appeasing the aggressor is not being considered. Ukraine will give a response if necessary," Reznikov said.
The minister also indicated that the winter training period has started in Russia.
"The enemy has already begun exercises near Ukraine, has intensified its reconnaissance, checking communications and carrying out camouflage measures. During the past week, tanks and armored vehicles have been reinforced with groupings in Bryansk and Smolensk regions," Reznikov said.
According to him, if two large landing ships of the Baltic Fleet enter the Mediterranean and Black Seas, their total number in the region will increase to nine.
"Together with boats, this will allow the enemy to simultaneously transfer up to 3,000 servicemen and up to 250 units of armored combat equipment. This indicates the preservation of the level of tension in the Azov-Black Sea region," the head of the Defense Ministry emphasized.
He pointed out that the enemy is already using a series of non-military measures, in particular information, economic, and energy.
"Its goal is to provoke internal destabilization, which will weaken our defense," Reznikov said.