President Joe Biden has promised to make military operations by Russian Vladimir Putin in Ukraine “very, very difficult” because US intelligence officials have determined that Russia is planning a military offensive that may begin as early as early 2022.
According to a Biden administration official who asked not to be named, the new intelligence investigation estimates that Russia plans to deploy approximately 175,000 soldiers, of which nearly half have been deployed in various locations near the Ukrainian border.
Russia has begun asking Biden to guarantee that Ukraine will not be allowed to join the NATO alliance.
The official added that the plan calls for the mobilization of 100 Russian battalion tactical teams, as well as armor, artillery and equipment.
The official said that intelligence officials have also seen an increase in Russia’s propaganda efforts, using agents and the media to discredit Ukraine and NATO prior to a potential invasion.
When asked about the results of an intelligence investigation during a presidential retreat at Camp David on Friday night, Biden reiterated his concerns about Russia’s provocative behavior.
Biden said: “We have known Russia’s actions for a long time, and I expect that we will have a long discussion with Putin.”
If Putin really experienced an invasion, the risks of this strategy would be huge.
US officials and former US diplomats said that although Putin is clearly laying the groundwork for a possible invasion, the Ukrainian military is better equipped and prepared today than in the past few years, and Western threats of sanctions will cause serious damage to the Russian economy. They said that it is unclear whether Putin intends to take a risky offensive.
Earlier on Friday, Biden promised to make Putin take military action in Ukraine “very, very difficult,” and said that the new measures proposed by his government are aimed at stopping Russian aggression.
“What I am doing is to integrate what I think will be the most comprehensive and meaningful series of measures, making it difficult for Mr. Putin to continue to do what people worry about him might do,” Biden said.
The Kremlin said on Friday that Putin will seek binding assurances during the call with Biden to prevent NATO from expanding into Ukraine. But Biden tried to prevent this demand.
“I don’t accept anyone’s red line,” Biden said.
At the same time, Ukrainian officials also warned that Russia may invade next month. Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksi Reznikov told lawmakers on Friday that the number of Russian troops in Crimea near Ukraine and annexed by Russia is estimated at 94,300, warning that a “mass escalation” may occur in January. . According to an unclassified intelligence document obtained by the Associated Press on Friday, US intelligence officials estimated that nearly 70,000 soldiers were deployed near the border.
The results of the intelligence investigation were first reported by the Washington Post.
There are signs that the White House and the Kremlin will arrange a dialogue between Biden and Putin next week. Putin’s foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov, told reporters on Friday that Putin’s call with Biden has been scheduled for the next few days, adding that the date will be announced after Moscow and Washington finalize the details. The Russians said they had reached an agreement on the date, but declined to disclose the exact time.
According to a person close to the Ukrainian President, Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also temporarily agreed to call next week.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that government officials have “considered” the possibility of Biden and Putin on the phone. White House officials did not respond to requests for comment on the expected Zelensky call.
“This is of course an opportunity to discuss our serious concerns about the belligerent rhetoric and the military buildup we see on the Ukrainian border,” Psaki said of the possible phone call with Biden-Putin.
Biden did not elaborate on what actions he is weighing. But Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who met with Secretary of State Anthony Brinken in Sweden on Thursday, said the United States has threatened to impose new sanctions. He did not elaborate on possible sanctions, but said that such efforts will not work.
“If new’sanctions from hell’ come, we will respond,” Lavrov said. “We can’t help but respond.”
Psaki said that if the government promotes sanctions, the government will seek to coordinate with European allies. She pointed out that as the White House was considering the way forward, the painful memory of Russia’s annexation of Crimea (the Black Sea peninsula that has been under Ukrainian control since 1954) came to mind.
“We know what President Putin did in the past,” Psaki said. “We see that he is building the ability to take action in a short period of time.”
During the Brinken-Lavrov meeting, there were profound differences. Russian officials accused the West of “playing with fire” by denying Russia’s right to have a say in any further expansion of NATO in the former Soviet Union. Zelensky has pushed Ukraine to join the alliance, which has promised to join the alliance, but has not set a timetable.
Brinken said this week that the United States “has made it clear to the Kremlin that we will make a firm response, including a series of high-impact economic measures that we have avoided in the past.”
He did not elaborate on which sanctions are being weighed, but it may be to disconnect Russia from the SWIFT international payment system. The European Parliament approved a non-binding resolution in April that would cut Russia’s ties with SWIFT (Global Interbank Financial Telecommunications Association) if Russian troops enter Ukraine.
This move will greatly help prevent Russian companies from entering the global financial system. According to reports, Western allies considered such steps in 2014 and 2015, when tensions in Ukraine led by Russia escalated earlier.
The then Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that this was tantamount to “declaring war.”
But some US government officials said that Putin may also seek the attention and concessions of Biden and other Western leaders, and use military escalation to force Russia to play a central role in world affairs as it did during the Soviet era.
“They are very envious of the status of the superpower and… the equality of the United States that existed during the Cold War. This is everything,” said John Herbst, the former US ambassador to Ukraine.
Invasion is possible, but more likely, “They provoked a crisis, they got concessions from us, and then they reduced the crisis. Right? I think that might be their goal,” Herbst Friday Say.