US intelligence shows preparations for rapid Russian push into Ukraine: report
U.S. intelligence shows that Russia is prepared to push into Ukraine from multiple locations with a buildup of troops and artillery along the border, Bloomberg reported Sunday.
The intelligence has been shared with NATO members over the past week amid efforts to deter Moscow from a possible invasion, people familiar with conversations told the outlet.
The report comes as concerns grow that Moscow could be planning to invade Ukraine similar to when it annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014.
Ukrainian Brig. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukraine’s defense intelligence agency, told The Military Times on Saturday that Moscow had more than 92,000 troops around Ukraine’s borders and was preparing to attack by the end of January or early February.
Russia has denied intentions to invade Ukraine. On Sunday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told state television that the “hysteria” about Ukraine is “being built up artificially,” Bloomberg noted.
“The ones who are accusing us of some kind of unusual military activity on our own territory are themselves sending their armed forces from across the ocean. I mean the United States of America. It’s not very logical and not very decent,” Peskov said.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met with Ukrainian defense minister Oleksii Reznikov last week. Reznikov told reporters on Friday that he asked the Pentagon for military assistance during the meeting.
The U.S. intelligence lays out a scenario where troops cross into Ukraine from Crimea and Belarus with about 100 battalion tactical groups that would be deployed for an operation in rough terrain and freezing conditions, Bloomberg reported.
Two people also told Bloomberg that Moscow called up tens of thousands of reservists. In any conflict, the reservists would secure territory in a later phase after battalions paved the way. Sources also said ground troops would most likely receive air support in such an operation.
Asked about the report, a senior administration official told The Hill that the administration has “made clear we continue to have serious concerns about Russian military activities and harsh rhetoric towards Ukraine and call on Moscow to de-escalate tensions.”
“We have had extensive interactions with our European allies and partners in recent weeks, including with Ukraine,” the official said.
“As we have said during the public readouts of those meetings, we’ve discussed our concerns about Russian military activities and harsh rhetoric towards Ukraine. We have also held discussions with Russian officials about Ukraine and U.S.-Russian relations generally.”