Russia has amassed at least 70% of the military might it would need to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, U.S. officials told lawmakers and European partners in recent days. Biden administration officials held closed meetings with House and Senate lawmakers on Thursday and said that if Moscow chooses to press ahead, Russian forces could quickly surround and capture Kyiv. and depose the president of the country. According to the latest intelligence assessments, a full invasion of Ukraine could kill up to 50,000 civilians, 25,000 members of the Ukrainian military and 10,000 Russian soldiers. The invasion could also trigger a refugee crisis in Europe with between one million and five million people fleeing, many of whom would pour into Poland.
Intelligence assessments still say it’s unclear if Russian President Vladimir Putin has made the final decision to invade, but the ground is expected to peak frost. around February 15. Meanwhile, Russia continues to build up its combat forces along the border. On Friday, there were 83 tactical groups of Russian battalions, consisting of 750 to 1,000 soldiers each, in position for an attack. This marks a sharp increase from 60 two weeks ago. Fourteen other battalion tactical groups are on their way to the border. US intelligence estimates that Russia would like between 110 and 130 tactical battalion groups in place lead a full-scale invasion.
With so many troops in place, some sort of action may be inevitable, some officials warn. “Our concern would be that you don’t station battlegroups twice…on the border of another country and do nothing,” said one A European official told the Washington Post in reference to the troop build-up last year. “I think that’s the real fear I have. [Putin’s] now put them all over there. If he does nothing more… what does that say to the wider international community about Russia’s power? Whether Putin is actually carrying out a full-scale invasion is the subject of much debate in European and American circles. Some European officials say Putin might choose to start small and gauge the global reaction first.
Russia quickly pushed back on the assessments, calling them part of a pattern. “The madness and alarmism continue. … what if we said that the United States could take over London in a week and kill 300,000 civilians? Russia’s Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations, Dmitry Polyanskiy, tweeted early Sunday morning.