Russia is amassing a military buildup totaling 175,000 troops near its border with Ukraine, according to unclassified U.S. intelligence, heightening concerns from U.S. officials and experts about the potential start of an official conflict.
“The Russian plans call for a military offensive against Ukraine as soon as early 2022 with a scale of forces twice what we saw this past spring during Russia’s rapid military buildup near Ukraine’s borders,” an administration official said Friday. “The plans involve extensive movement of 100 battalion tactical groups with an estimated 175,000 personnel, along with armor, artillery, and equipment.”
The New York Times reports that the “intentions of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia remain unclear, and the intelligence does not show that he has decided to carry out the apparent war plan.” However, Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Russian officials on Thursday that “if Russia decides to pursue confrontation, there will be serious consequences.”
President Joe Biden and Putin will speak in a video call Tuesday, reports Reuters. “We’re aware of Russia’s actions for a long time and my expectation is we’re going to have a long discussion with Putin,” Biden told reporters on Friday en route to Camp David, adding that the administration is putting together a plan “to make it very, very difficult for Mr. Putin to go ahead and do what people are worried he may do.”