The continued build-up of Russian troops along the borders with Ukraine has raised fears of a larger invasion. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied that these deployments are aggressive, yet hints at “military-technical measures” if Russia’s “security” concerns are not met.
On January 29, Russia’s Embassy in the U.K. published a series of tweets quoting Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about diplomacy with the United States.
“Unlike US, #Russia deploys military forces only upon request from host countries,” Lavrov was quoted as saying. “We fulfil [sic] agreements with them and abide by international law.”
That is false.
Russian troops occupy parts of Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. Russian military involvement in the latter two countries dates to the early 1990s, and Russia-led forces occupied Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and initiated the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region in 2014.
Russian forces continue to wage war in Donbas and have repeatedly violated a ceasefire agreement signed in Minsk, Belarus, in 2015. An estimated 14,000 people have died in the conflict in Donbas.
The Russian forces in Moldova are propping up the unrecognized breakaway state of Transnistria, despite the fact that Moldova President Maia Sandu publicly asked Russia to remove its approximately 1,500 troops in 2020 and again in 2021. Russia refused, claiming the troops were needed to continue dismantling a large arms depot. (Polygraph.info previously fact-checked that claim.)
In 2018, the United Nations issued a resolution calling for Russia to remove its troops from internationally-recognized Moldovan territory.
In Georgia, Russia has all but annexed the breakaway territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and Russian troops there have been found repeatedly encroaching on Georgian territory outside Abkhazia and South Ossetia by gradually moving border fences.
As a result of this “creeping occupation,” villages have been divided, with some residents finding themselves in Russian-controlled territory. This all followed a war Russia launched against Georgia in August 2008 as Georgia moved to stop separatists in South Ossetia.
The United States and several other Western members of the U.N. Security Council have condemned Russia’s control of the breakaway areas in Georgia and other activities as violations of international law.