US intelligence estimates that Russia intends to carry out a military offensive against Ukraine in early 2022, the Washington Post reported Saturday night.
According to a source in the Biden administration who spoke to the American newspaper, Russia intends to send about 175,000 troops to Ukraine to take part in the attack.
According to a classified intelligence report obtained by the Associated Press, close to 70,000 Russian troops have already been stationed on the border between the two countries. Russian army battalions along with tanks, artillery and other equipment.
Tens of thousands of soldiers are already at the border.
Russian military forces in Crimea, April 2021, Photo: AP
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksey Reznikov said quite similar things in the local parliament yesterday.
According to him, about 94,000 Russian soldiers are currently stationed in the Crimea - and he also warned that a "large-scale deterioration" could occur as early as next month.
U.S. officials and former U.S. diplomats said that although Russian President Vladimir Putin is preparing for an invasion of his neighbor, the Ukrainian military is now far more armed and prepared than it has been in recent years, and also believes that sanctions imposed on Russia in the event of an invasion will hit the country's economy hard.
Will Washington impose sanctions on Moscow?
The report comes amid Russia's desire to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO, so much so that the Russians have asked the US to prevent joining.
The same source also claimed that Moscow had "upped the ante" in propaganda against Kiev, with the aim of blackening it before it joined NATO.
In response to the report, US President Joe Biden expressed concern about what he defined as "Russian provocations."
"We have been aware of Russia's actions for some time, and I expect that we will have a long conversation with Putin. I am carrying out the most comprehensive and significant initiatives to make it very difficult for Putin to move forward and do what people very much fear he will do," he told US media.
"Aware of Russia's actions."
US President Joe Biden at the White House, Photo: AP
In light of Biden's remarks, his secretary of state Anthony Blinken and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov met in Sweden on Tuesday.
The latter said that Washington had threatened to impose sanctions on Moscow, but did not elaborate further.
"If the sanctions from hell do come, we will respond to them," he said.
At the same time, senior officials of the two powers have said that the White House and the Kremlin are working to hold talks between the leaders of the two powers as early as next week, in order to understand where the winds are "blowing" following those reports of a potential Russian invasion.
At the same time, in the "AP."
It is reported that Biden is expected to hold a conversation with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zalansky next week.
"Class of superpower"
One who is not particularly moved by the Russian threats is John Herbst, who served as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from 2006-2003. "They very much want to achieve a status of superpower, something that will be similar to that of the U.S. during the Cold War," Herbst said.
He said an invasion was indeed a real option for Moscow, but it was possible that it was a crisis deliberately created by Russia to re-establish Russia's status in the eyes of world nations.
Preparing for the invasion?
Russian President Vladimir Putin in Kremlin, Photo: AFP
Just last week, Ukraine held a large armored exercise in the Donetsk region, which is a few kilometers from the line of confrontation with pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country.
Hundreds of tanks and special forces of the Ukrainian army participated in the exercise, and in recent weeks there have been a series of additional exercises by a motorized infantry fighter and an armored combatant.
The exercise took place against the background of a report that the Biden administration was considering sending military experts and a large quantity of modern weapons to Ukraine, in light of the recent Russian threats to invade the country.
Last week: The Ukrainian army in an exercise in the east of the country // Photo: Reuters
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