The U.S. continues to not assume that a Russian invasion of Ukraine is a done deal. But the U.S. armed forces are sending a warning.
Russian President Vladimir Putin now has sufficient military forces assembled for a possible attack on Ukraine, the U.S. government believes. "While we do not believe that President Putin has made the final decision to use these forces against Ukraine," U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters at the Pentagon on Friday.
"But he clearly has that ability now. And it has several options at its disposal, including the capture of cities and significant territories."But "provocative political actions" such as the recognition of breakaway territories are also conceivable.
Austin and Chief of Staff Mark Milley called on Putin to de-escalate. "We believe a diplomatic solution is the way to go here," Milley said. Austin emphasized, "Conflict is not inevitable, there is still time and space for diplomacy."
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Milley warned of numerous civilian casualties in Ukraine in the event of a Russian invasion. "Throughout Ukraine, there are a lot of people and very densely populated centers," said Milley, who cited the capital Kiev as one example. "And if war were to break out on a scale that is possible, the civilian population will suffer extremely."
If the gathered Russian forces attack Ukraine, it would "lead to a considerable number of victims. And you can imagine how this would look in dense urban areas, along roads and so on and so forth. It would be horrible, it would be terrible."
Milley said Russia had more than 100.000 soldiers massed on the border with Ukraine. Accordingly, an attack could occur "with very, very little warning". Austin said the 8500 troops in the U.S. who have been placed on heightened alert because of the conflict have not yet received their marching orders. Austin also stressed, "The president has made clear that no troops will be deployed for combat purposes in Ukraine."
Biden had 8500 soldiers on standby
On Biden’s orders, 8,500 troops in the U.S. had been placed on heightened readiness Monday to allow for rapid redeployment to NATO countries in Europe if needed. Biden had stressed this was not a provocation, but a precautionary measure to address concerns of eastern European Nato members. Tens of thousands of U.S. troops are regularly stationed in Europe, including about 35,000 in Germany, even outside times of crisis.
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With a massive Russian troop buildup near Ukraine, there are fears in the West that the Kremlin could be planning an incursion into the neighboring country – which Moscow denies. However, it is also considered possible that only fears are to be stirred up, in order to induce the NATO states to concessions with new safety guarantees. Efforts to defuse the conflict have been ongoing for weeks. ()