U.S. intelligence reports maintain that Russia has intensified preparations for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine and already has deployed 70% of the forces it would need for such an attack, according to US officials.
Moscow has already concentrated 110,000 troops on the borders with Ukraine, and could have enough capacity to launch an offensive in two weeks, according to these members of intelligence agencies who have held briefings in recent days with US congressmen and representatives of their European allies.
US intelligence is uncertain, they said, whether Russian President Vladimir Putin is determined to go offensive.
But Putin wants to have all the options at his disposal: from a limited invasion of Ukraine’s pro-Russian Donbas region to a full invasion of the neighboring country, officials said.
Russia has denied repeatedly that it is planning to invade Ukraine.
For US intelligence, if Russia opts for a large-scale attack, the invading force could take the capital, Kiev, and overthrow President Volodymyr Zelensky in a matter of 48 hours.
US says it will work to ‘prevent’ any action in region
Such an attack could leave between 25,000 and 50,000 civilians dead, in addition to between 5,000 and 25,000 Ukrainian soldiers and between 3,000 and 10,000 Russian soldiers. It could also trigger a flood of refugees of one to five million people, mainly to Poland, officials warned.
President Joe Biden has arranged to send US troops to Poland to protect NATO members, while diplomats work hard to try to persuade Russia to withdraw its troops from the border with Ukraine.
The first contingent of US soldiers arrived on Saturday.
Moscow has also announced joint military exercises with Belarus, for which it has sent several battalions to the north of Kiev and to the Brest region, not far from the Polish border.
US intelligence services have concluded that Russia continues to assemble a significant military force on its border with Ukraine.
Two weeks ago, a total of 60 Russian army battalions positioned themselves in the north, east and south of Ukraine, particularly in the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed after a 2014 invasion.
The Caracas-Moscow alliance that today generates tension from the border area
But by Friday there were already 80 battalions and 14 more were en route from other parts of Russia, US officials said.
They added that some 1,500 Russian special forces soldiers known as Spetsnaz were deployed along the Ukrainian border a week ago.
Mobilization of naval forces
A significant Russian naval force is also positioned in the Black Sea, equipped with five amphibious assault ships that could be used to land troops on Ukraine’s southern coast, US officials said.
In addition, they added, six other amphibious ships were observed leaving the Barents Sea north of Russia and sailing past Britain and through the Strait of Gibraltar, apparently en route to the Black Sea.
In addition, Russia has stationed warplanes near Ukraine, as well as bombers, anti-aircraft and missile batteries, the officials stated.
On Thursday, the United States said it had evidence that Russia was preparing a video showing a fake attack on Ukraine that would serve as a pretext for a real Russian attack on that country.
WASHINGTON (UNITED STATES)