Russia has now reportedly assembled 70% of the military troops and armaments required throughout Ukraine’s borders if President Vladimir Putin decides to launch a full-scale invasion of the country, according to officials from the US Government. According to the Associated Press, citing anonymous sources at the Pentagon. This reporting which states that the Russians do not yet have all the forces in place needed to invade Ukraine undermines previous claims by the administration that an invasion of Ukraine was “imminent” which means at any moment.

SOFREP has previously expressed its skepticism of claims that such an invasion was imminent given the lack of troops reported to be in place, the absence of critical logistical support like field hospitals, fuel, and ammunition dumps, and the large numbers of fuel trucks that would be needed to support a large scale invasion of Ukraine by Russian mechanized formations.  We also noted that it is Winter in Ukraine when daily temperatures stay below freezing even into March.  From a doctrine standpoint, Winter is the worst time for Russia to invade a country like Ukraine.

These US Officials warned that a Russian invasion of this magnitude with this large amount of Russian troops could quickly overtake and overwhelm the Ukrainian Armed Forces. It can capture Kyiv within 48 hours and take with it as many as 50,000 civilians either killed as collateral damage or injured, as reported by the Washington Post. This will also incur about 5 million Ukrainians seeking refuge in other countries.

Satellite image released by Maxar Technologues showing troops setting up camp in Yelnya, Smolensk Oblast, Russia (Maxar Technologies via Daily Sabah). Source: https://www.dailysabah.com/world/europe/kyiv-says-90000-russian-military-units-staged-near-ukrainian-border
A satellite image released by Maxar Technologies showing troops setting up camp in Yelnya, Smolensk Oblast, Russia (Satellite image ©2021 Maxar Technologies / AFP).

According to the unclassified report prepared in December 2021, the Kremlin allegedly had 83 combat battalions with 750 to 1,000 Russian troops per battalion. It is expected that 110 to 130 battalion tactical groups are needed for a full-fledged invasion of Ukraine. US Officials estimated that completing this deployment could be done in a matter of weeks if needed, with over 150,000 troops in total. It should be noted that administration claims of an imminent invasion were made while this report saying the Russians were at 70% troop levels was being circulated.

This comes after Pentagon Spokesperson John Kirby claimed that the US had uncovered a Russian plot to create a fake video that shows Russian-speaking populations being killed, with houses being destroyed allegedly by Ukrainian forces with weapons supplied by the West—their NATO allies. The intelligence was released to the general public in the hopes that disclosing US intelligence on Russian military activities would deter Russian disinformation and block the Kremlin’s alleged attempts on a false-flag attack, a plan that the Russian government has vehemently denied. The Pentagon did not offer any concrete proof of this to the press which led to a testy exchange between a reporter for the AP and Kirby who asked DoD to release hard evidence of the plot, which Kirby refused to do.

These US officials stated that a diplomatic solution remains possible amid the 70% military build-up along the border. However, they did come up with indicators to suggest that the Kremlin is preparing for a large-scale invasion if they later deem it necessary:

  • A large-scale exercise and show of nuclear strength, where the Russians moved their nuclear exercises from February to March
  • Test launches of unarmed long-range missiles to intimidate Ukraine and its allies

This report supports new a new statement by the White House on February 3, that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is no longer imminent. The decision to tone down the “imminent” rhetoric comes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on the United States, after personally contacting President Biden to stop spreading panic among the Ukrainian citizens as it was damaging their economy.

Russian paratroopers walk before boarding Ilyushin Il-76 transport planes as they take part in the military exercises "Zapad-2021" staged by the armed forces of Russia and Belarus at an aerodrome in Kaliningrad Region, Russia, September 13, 2021. (REUTERS/Vitaly Nevar). Source: https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/russia-belarus-plan-joint-military-drills-february-lukashenko-2022-01-17/
Russian paratroopers walk before boarding Ilyushin Il-76 transport planes as they take part in the military exercises “Zapad-2021” staged by the armed forces of Russia and Belarus at an aerodrome in Kaliningrad Region, Russia, September 13, 2021. (REUTERS/Vitaly Nevar).

Commanding General of the 82nd Airborn Division Major General Christopher Donahue arrived in Poland last Saturday, with 1,700 soldiers. 300 soldiers from Fort Bragg are also going to Germany, with Germany-based soldiers transferring to Romania. This was done by the US to defend NATO members in Eastern Europe against any aggression posed by Russia.

The overall military relationships wielded by both sides are also important to look into. Russia’s Putin and China’s Xi have met in Beijing during the 2022 Winter Olympics. Both have expressed support in each other’s endeavors, with Xi supporting Russia with the Ukraine issue and Putin supporting China’s foreign policies on Taiwan and the South China Sea Dispute. Many political observers are also looking into whether Biden would send additional forces to Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia to counter military build-up within Belarus. The US President may also send more troops within Eastern Europe, particularly those allied nations on NATO’s eastern flank, to provide support to Ukraine if ever a war were to break out.

Rather than NATO countries and the U.S. engaging in a full scall mobilization with Germany, France, Poland, and France calling up reservists and moving troops Eastward, the NATO response has been one of tit for tat tokenism. A few planes moved by Denmark, France saying it may send troops to Romania, and a ship or two moved into the Mediterranean or Black Sea.

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