Russia has “probably has massed between 169,000-190,000 personnel in and near Ukraine as compared with about 100,000 on Jan. 30,” Michael Carpenter, the US ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said Friday.
This estimate includes military troops along the border, in Belarus, and in occupied Crimea; Russian National Guard and other internal security units deployed to these areas; and Russian-led forces in eastern Ukraine,” Carpenter told a special OSCE meeting on Russia-Ukraine tensions, according to a statement.
“While Russia has sought to downplay or deceive the world about their ground and air preparations, the Russian military has publicized its large-scale naval exercises in the Black Sea, Baltic Sea and the Arctic," he said.
"Russia has publicly said the Black Sea exercise alone involves more than 30 ships, and we assess that amphibious landing ships from the Northern and Baltic Fleets were sent to the Black Sea to augment forces there,” he continued.
In the statement, Carpenter laid out seven steps he recommends the Russians fulfill in order to “reduce risk of miscalculation and lower tensions.”
The steps include:
- accounting for all military activities associated with its deployments in the vicinity of Ukraine and other nearby neighbors.
- including aerial inspections of areas of concern and confirmation of the redeployment of all forces to peacetime location.
- addressing questions specific to the request by Ukraine regarding the number of troops, major weapons and equipment systems, and units involved from the Russian armed forces.
The OSCE is a 57-member security organization that also includes the US and Canada.
The large estimate of 160,000-190,000 Russian personnel by the US includes Russian troops on the borders of Ukraine as well as the Russian-led forces in eastern Ukraine, an administration official tells CNN.
The earlier estimate this week from a senior administration official on approximately 150,000 forces was just borders and did not factor in the Russian-backed separatists.
CNN's Kaitlan Collins contributed reporting to this post.