May 16, 2022 4:43 pm

US intelligence warns that Moscow would take Kiev in just 48 hours and cause thousands of casualties

WASHINGTON.– New intelligence reports from the United States maintain that Russia intensified preparations for a invasion of Ukraine on a large scale and already has 70% of the forces deployed that it would need for such an attack, that would take Kiev in 48 hours and leave at least 50,000 dead, according to US officials.

The new estimate of US espionage was downplayed by Ukraine, which urged to be wary of “apocalyptic forecasts”, considering that the possibilities of a “diplomatic solution” with Russia are “far superior” to those of a “military escalation”.

Moscow has already concentrated 110,000 soldiers on the borders with Ukraine, and could have enough capacity to launch an offensive in two weeks, according to these members of intelligence agencies who in recent days held briefings with US congressmen and representatives of their European allies.

However, US intelligence is uncertain, they said, whether Russian President Vladimir Putin is determined to go on the offensive.

Vehicles from the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division leave Jasionka Airport near Rzeszow, Poland, on February 06, 2022. AP Agency

But Putin wants to have all the options at his disposal: from a limited invasion of Ukraine’s pro-Russian Donbas region to an all-out invasion of the neighboring country, the officials said.

The US officials – who spoke of internal government assessments of the case on condition of anonymity – outlined a number of indicators that suggest Putin intends to launch an invasion in the coming weeks, although the size and scale they are not clear. They stressed that a diplomatic solution still seems possible.

Notable among those military indicators is an exercise by Russia’s strategic nuclear forces that usually takes place every fall and has been rescheduled for mid-February to March. That coincides with what US analysts see as the most likely window for invasion.

Russia has repeatedly denied that it is planning to invade Ukraine.

For US intelligence, if Russia opts for a large-scale attack, the invading force could take the capital, Kiev, and overthrow President Volodimir Zelensky in a matter of 48 hours.

Such an attack could leave between 25,000 and 50,000 civilians dead, in addition to between 5,000 and 25,000 Ukrainian soldiers and between 3,000 and 10,000 Russian soldiers. It could also trigger a flood of refugees of one to five million people, mainly to Poland, officials warned.

President Joe Biden has arranged to send US troops to Poland to protect NATO members, while diplomats are working hard to try to persuade Russia to withdraw its troops from the Ukraine border.

Ukrainian soldiers build a bunker on the front line on December 12, 2021 in Zolote, Ukraine.
Ukrainian soldiers build a bunker on the front line on December 12, 2021 in Zolote, Ukraine. Brendan Hoffman – Getty Images Europe

The first contingent of American soldiers arrived in Poland at dawn today. A Boeing C-17 landed at Rzeszow-Jesionka Airport (Southeast).

The American contingent of 1,700 soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division will be deployed in southeastern Poland, on the eastern flank of NATO, and will be commanded by General Christopher Donahue, the last American soldier to leave Afghanistan last August.

The division is capable of mobilizing within 18 hours and parachuting to seize facilities. It was created in 1917 and is based on Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

The United States announced last week that it was sending an additional 3,000 troops to Eastern Europe to defend NATO countries. “against any aggression”, in full diplomatic activity to try to convince Moscow to withdraw its troops concentrated on the borders with Ukraine.

These new US troops are added to the 8,500 military personnel placed on alert at the end of January by Biden to be deployed in the NATO rapid reaction force in case of need.

Moscow it also announced joint military exercises with Belarus and sent several battalions north of Kiev and to the Brest region, not far from the Polish border.

US intelligence services have concluded that Russia continues to amass a significant military force on its border with Ukraine. Two weeks ago, a total of 60 Russian Army battalions positioned themselves in northern, eastern and southern Ukraine, particularly on the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed after a 2014 invasion.

But by Friday there were already 80 battalions and 14 more were on their way from other parts of Russia.

They added that some 1,500 Russian special forces soldiers known as Spetsnaz were deployed along the Ukrainian border a week ago. A major Russian naval force is also positioned in the Black Sea, equipped with five amphibious assault ships that could be used to land troops on Ukraine’s southern coast, US officials said.

In this image made from video and released by the press service of the Russian Defense Ministry on Wednesday, February 2, 2022, Russian soldiers during military exercises at the Yurginsky training ground in Kemerovo region, Russia.
In this image made from video and released by the press service of the Russian Defense Ministry on Wednesday, February 2, 2022, Russian soldiers during military exercises at the Yurginsky training ground in Kemerovo region, Russia.

Additionally, they added, six other amphibious ships were seen leaving the Barents Sea, north of Russia, and sailing past Britain and through the Strait of Gibraltar, apparently en route to the Black Sea.

In this context, Ukraine relativized the risk of a Russian invasion after warning from Washington.

“Don’t trust doomsday forecasts”Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dimitro Kuleba tweeted.

“Ukraine has a powerful army, unprecedented international support (…) and is prepared for any scenario”, he claimed. “It is the enemy that should fear us,” he added.

Mihailo Podoliak, chief counselor of the Ukrainian administration, expressed himself in the same direction: “The chances of finding a diplomatic solution are much higher than the threat of a new escalation,” he declared.

Agencies Reuters, AFP, ANSA and AP

Reference-www.lanacion.com.ar

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