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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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March 5th, 2014
05:36 PM ET

Why the U.S. is stepping up presence near Ukraine

(CNN) – In response to the Russian incursion into Ukrainian territory, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the U.S. is beefing up its presence in the region.

But will that rattle the Russians at all?

Military analyst Major General James "Spider" Marks, U.S. Army (Ret.), says the move is not aimed at Russia.

"What that is intended to do is bolster the confidence of our allies and our friends, to make sure they know we're standing by and paying attention. That's the intended recipient," said Marks.

There was also a heated exchange during Hagel's testimony Wednesday, when Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, asked whether U.S. intelligence indicated Russia would invade.

The issue became tactical warning, says Marks.

"That means the Russians had forces that were exercising north of Ukraine, and this was a very large exercise, but it was declared and we were watching it. Suddenly you have forces that come across and they're now in Crimea. And they did it by way of air assault ... and they did it by land," said Marks.

"So this was kind of normal activity, all of a sudden they don't leave, and the number of troops have increased," said Marks.

For more of our interview with Major General James "Spider" Marks, U.S. Army (Ret.), check out the video above.

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