- Russia has amassed some 130,000 troops at Ukraine’s border. The US warned an invasion could happen any day.
- But it would need 200,000 troops for a “full-scale” incursion, Ukraine’s former defense minister told The Guardian.
- France’s Macron is meeting Russia and Ukraine’s leaders this week to discuss a diplomatic alternative.
Russia has amassed enough troops to “seize any city” in Ukraine, but is still short of the number needed for a full occupation, Ukraine’s former defense minister said.
“Russia could now seize any city in Ukraine. But we still don’t see the 200,000 troops needed for a full-scale invasion,” Andriy Zagorodnyuk told The Guardian.
Official US estimates put the number of Russian troops at Ukraine’s border at 130,000. US officials told the Associated Press that Russia has to date amassed 70% of the total firepower it would need for a mid-February invasion.
The US assessment and Zagorodnyuk’s comments came after an updated US military and intelligence assessment, shared with US lawmakers, warned that 50,000 civilians could be killed or wounded during an invasion, according to The Washington Post.
The assessment said Russia could overthrow the Ukrainian government within two days and that five million people would become refugees, The Post said.
Zagorodnyuk told The Guardian the situation in his country was “pretty dire.”
In Washington, DC, senior US officials have publicly warned that an invasion could happen any day.
“We are in the window,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told Fox News on Sunday.
“Any day now, Russia could take military action against Ukraine or it could be a couple of weeks from now, or Russia could choose to take the diplomatic path instead.”
President Joe Biden called Russian President Vladimir Putin last month to caution him against an invasion.
On Monday, Biden is scheduled to meet the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the White House to discuss Germany’s response to the crisis, which has so far seen Berlin decline to provide Ukraine with military aid.
Also on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron is scheduled to meet Putin in Moscow to discuss a diplomatic solution, and then fly to Kyiv to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday.
However, Zagorodnyuk told The Guardian it was still hard to figure out Putin’s long-term plan.
“We don’t see a political endgame here. If Putin seizes Kyiv, there will be full-scale war. The Ukrainian army forces will fight. There will be enormous resistance for all time. Why would you do that?” he said.
“Ukraine is not going to say: ‘Let’s join Russia.’ This is understood. Unless, of course, Putin is totally delusional and has his own understanding of reality. There will be blood, sanctions.”
“Nobody needs that kind of international war in Europe right now.”