Russia has gathered a minimum of 70 per cent of the military capability it needs for a full-invasion of Ukraine, US officials have said.
Russia is believed to have over 100,000 troops at Ukraine’s borders according to the BBC, but despite the number growing from a maximum of 60,000 two weeks ago, it continues to deny planning an invasion.
This weekend, media reports including the New York Times cited estimations that 50,000 civilians could be killed or wounded if Moscow did invade and captured Kyiv.
More troops sent to Eastern Europe
It comes after on Friday, US officials said Russia placed 83 “battalion tactical groups” near Ukraine’s border and sent out another 14 groups. Each group is around the same size as an American battalion of 750-1,000 soldiers, according to The Guardian.
According to the American officials, Russia may want between 110,000-150,000 troops for a full-scale invasion, a level which could be reached in the next two weeks.
Yesterday, the US Army’s major general Christopher Donahue arrived in Poland, with another 1,700 soldiers from his 82nd Airborne Division arriving in Poland. American military already has 4,500 troops in Poland due to both a NATO and a bilateral alliance, according to Reuters.
Romania is also being sent soldiers by the West, with 1,000 Germany-based soldiers shifting to the Eastern European country which neighbours Ukraine.
Captain Matt Visser, spokesperson for the 18th Airborne Corps, which includes the 82nd division, said: “Our corps’ presence serves to bolster existing US forces in Europe and demonstrates our commitment to our Nato allies and partners.”
According to Visser, the corps is composed of “combat capable forces who stand ready to enhance the alliance’s ability to deter and defeat Russian aggression”.
World leaders rush to visit Moscow and Kyiv
The moves come after Washington promised last week it would send thousands of troops to Eastern Europe to defend NATO members against any “aggression”.
Meanwhile, prime minister Boris Johnson agreed with France’s president Emmanuel Macron that the UK and its NATO allies would unite against Russian aggression “wherever and however it might occur”.
European have been due to visit Moscow and Kyiv in a bid to de-escalate tensions, with Macron expected to do so on Monday and, respectively, Tuesday, whilst Germany’s chancellor Olaf Scholz will travel to the capital cities on 14 and 15 February.
UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss was also due to go to Ukraine, but cancelled the trip after testing positive for Covid. She is set to visit Moscow soon.
Truss has previously accused Russia of plotting to topple Ukraine’s president and replace him with a pro-Russia leader.
The Tory secretary has repeatedly warned Russia that it would make a huge mistake if it invaded Ukraine – and would suffer from serious consequence.