With US Official believing that a full Russian invasion of Ukraine could happen upon the end of the Beijing Winter Olympics on February 20, the US is ramping up military troops, vessels, and aircraft in preparation for an incursion that will happen in four days on February 16, according to latest US intelligence reports.
In fact, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan has recommended that all 30,000 Americans currently in Ukraine should leave due to intelligence reports of said invasion. “Any American in Ukraine should leave as soon as possible, and in any event in the next 24 to 48 hours,” he said.
“But the risk is now high enough, and the threat is now immediate enough that this is what Putin demands. If you stay, you are assuming risk with no guarantee that there will be any other opportunity to leave and no prospect of a US military evacuation in the event of a Russian invasion,” he added.
It seems that the media is also divided on reports regarding Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision on whether to invade Ukraine or not, with some saying that he has decided to invade their neighbor, some stating that the Kremlin has not come to a final decision yet, and SOFREP is on record stating that imminent plans to invade Ukraine are on the unlikely side of things.
In fact, before Sullivan took the White House podium, Nick Schifrin, PBS NewsHour’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Correspondent, had tweeted that Putin had already decided to invade Ukraine, upholding Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s announcement that a Russian invasion might begin as soon as next week.
NEW: The US believes Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to invade Ukraine, and has communicated that decision to the Russian military, three Western and defense officials tell me.
— Nick Schifrin (@nickschifrin) February 11, 2022
However, reports from European allied intelligence said that the information collected is raw at best and that they had a different interpretation regarding the alleged Russian invasion on February 16.
In anticipation of an invasion that the Kremlin still denies, 6,000 US troops, mostly from the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, have been deployed to NATO allies Poland and Romania in response to the nearly daily fluctuating number of Russian troops building up on the Ukrainian-Russian border. Some American fighter jets and bombers have also been ordered to move closer to Ukraine. On February 11, 4 US Navy destroyers were nearing the Mediterranean Sea to help deter a Russian invasion. They were ordered to sail from their home ports in Virginia and Florida last January.
These US Atlantic Fleet destroyers, namely USS Donald Cook (DDG 75), USS Mitscher (DDG 57), USS The Sullivans (DDG-68), and USS Gonzalez (DDG 66), will be joining the US 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean, making it the largest deployment of navy ships to the region in recent history. The real offensive striking power of the U.S. Navy is represented by its eleven Carrier Strike Groups. As of February 7th, only four CSGs were at sea and only the USS Harry Truman CSG was in the Med.
They join the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) along with Carrier Wing 1, and its carrier strike group comprised of the USS Bainbridge (DDG- 96), USS Cole (DDG-67), USS Gravely (DDG-107), the USS Jason Dunham (DDG-109), and the missile destroyer USS San Jacinto (CG-56) after completing their Mediterranean Sea exercise Neptune Stike 22 conducted with various NATO allies. The Norwegian frigate HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen also reportedly joined the strike group. The US Navy also has four destroyers in Spain, namely USS Ross (DDG-71), USS Roosevelt (DDG-80), USS Porter (DDG-78), and USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51).
On the other hand, small numbers of fighter jets were also sent to Europe within the course of the last few months in response to a potential Russian invasion. The US Air Force has sent 6 F-15Es to Estonia, and 8 F-16s from the 52nd Fighter Squadron were also deployed to Fetesti Air Base in Romania from Spangdahlem Air Base. Furthermore, 8 F-15s from the 48th Fighter Squadron were deployed from the RAF Lakenheath, United Kingdom, to Lask Air Base, Poland. The Air Force keeps about 200 fighter aircraft scattered through Europe in the UK, Germany, and Italy. The total number of fight jets in the Air Force is greater than 1,800 so the numbers sent to Europe as augments is very small and seemingly tokenish in nature.
“The extra fighters will bolster readiness and allied deterrence and defense as Russia continues its military build-up in and around Ukraine,” said a statement released by the Allied Air Command. It was said that its goal was to enhance NATO’s Air Policing mission.
On February 10th, they were joined by 4 USAF Boeing B-52 Stratofortress bombers who arrived at the RAF Fairford, United Kingdom, allegedly part of the Bomber Task Force missions. These aircraft are also joined by Polish, Belgian, and Danish F-16s within the Baltics and EC-130 radar jammer planes across Europe.
On top of these deployments, intelligence and surveillance activities have also ramped up in the recent week, with over 32 surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft flying over Europe, specifically collecting information over the Baltic region and the North Sea. These flights originated from the US, Sweden, Canada, and several NATO allies within the region.
The question remains if Russia actually intends to invade Ukraine or the Biden administration is hyping the threat of an imminent invasion in order to posture as if it saved Ukrain from invasion when a diplomatic solution is made. The intelligence coming out of Russia is raw, mostly satellite images and not data obtained on the ground that can tell how detailed the planning is. An imminent invasion should have Ukraine mobilizing and calling up its reserves to move to the border to meet the Russian army, and that hasn’t happened yet.
In response to all these questions, Biden and Putin are scheduled to have an 11 am call on Sunday, the first direct contact since December, to discuss the tensions and possibly come up with a diplomatic solution for the crisis.
Stay tuned to our updates as we keep you abreast of recent developments.