The latest news on the Ukraine-Russia crisis: live updates

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov holds a briefing in Kyiv, Ukraine, February 3. (Volodymyr Tarasov/Ukrinform/Future Publishing/Getty Images)

Ukraine is not witnessing the withdrawal of Russian forces from positions near the Ukrainian border, its Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on Monday.

“We are watching the Russian units, which today number 127,000 people on the ground component, and with the naval and air component 147,000 people,” Reznikov said on Monday.

“We don’t see a withdrawal and we’re not talking about a reduction in numbers, as units can be quickly returned to their previous place or transferred to another area.”

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense gave very similar figures last week.

Its update then takes place new satellite imagery data collected by Maxar on Sunday show heightened activity among Russian units near Ukraine’s northeastern border, with units that were in garrisons appearing to take up positions on the ground.

“This new activity represents a change in the pattern of previously observed deployments of battle groups (tanks, armored personnel carriers, artillery and support equipment),” Maxar observed.

“Until recently, most deployments had been seen primarily positioned at or near existing military garrisons and training areas,” he said.

Reznikov added on Monday: “We are by no means underestimating the threat, it is really high.”

The Minister also raised the possibility that Russia recognize self-proclaimed republics in eastern Ukraine as an independent.

“If they recognize these terrorist groups, which call themselves republics, tomorrow or the day after, they will directly violate the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine,” he said.

“It will mean that in fact it is a pretext for a potential invasion by bringing in some peacekeepers or something, as they will call it.”

Last week, Russian lawmakers called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to recognize the breakaway Donbas republics as independent.

The Kremlin said after the vote that it did not plan to recognize the two regions, saying: “No one remains indifferent to the fate of Donbass. But Russia has repeatedly stated that it remains committed to the Minsk package of measures, and that Russia is in favor of implementing the entire Minsk plan as soon as possible, in the order that exists. .”