U.S. warns of Kyiv takeover, mass casualties, as France’s Macron heads to Moscow in effort to broker peace deal

by mcardinal

Chris Lange, FISM News


White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan gave dire warning yesterday that Russia could invade Ukraine “any day,” spearheading a conflict that would come at an “enormous human cost.”

The announcement follows reports from U.S. intelligence officials that Russia has dispatched at least 70 percent of the military firepower it plans to position at the Ukrainian border in preparation for a potential full-scale invasion, according to an AP report.

Officials also noted that Moscow has rescheduled its annual nuclear force exercises, typically held in the fall, to either mid-February or March, an indicator that the Kremlin could launch an offensive in the coming weeks. The military exercises are likely to include test-launches of long-range missiles on Russian territory, though Washington has stopped short of saying a nuclear conflict is possible.

“We believe that there is a very distinct possibility that Vladimir Putin will order an attack on Ukraine. It could take a number of different forms. It could happen as soon as tomorrow, or it could take some weeks yet. He has put himself in a position with military deployments to be able to act aggressively against Ukraine at any time now,” Sullivan said in an interview on ABC This Week.

He later added that, “We have to be prepared for the possibility of a contingency of a military action by Russia before the Olympics end, and we also have to be prepared for one after the Olympics end, so at this point we are in the window.”

In a separate interview on Fox News Sunday, Sullivan warned that a Russian invasion would come at a cost for the Kremlin:

If war breaks out, it will come at an enormous human cost to Ukraine, but we believe that based on our preparations and our response, it will come at a strategic cost to Russia as well.

Western leaders, meanwhile, say a diplomatic solution to the tension has not been ruled out.

French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to travel to Moscow today in an effort to make yet another bid for a peaceful resolution. Macron and President Biden met over the weekend to discuss “ongoing diplomatic and deterrence efforts” and reaffirm “their support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” according to a White House read-out of the meeting.

Macron’s continued optimistic approach to tensions in Eastern Europe lies in stark contrast to the ominous forecasts coming out of Washington. 

“I have always been in a deep dialogue with President Putin and our responsibility is to build historic solutions,” Macron told France’s Journal de Dimanche Saturday

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov downplayed Macron’s visit, however, saying, “The situation is too complex to expect decisive breakthroughs in the course of one meeting,” adding, “In recent days there has been nothing new on the topic of security guarantees for Russia; our Western interlocutors prefer not to mention this topic.”

U.S. officials have warned that Russia could capture Kyiv and overtake Ukraine’s government in as little as two days, potentially resulting in tens of thousands of casualties and upwards of 5 million refugees fleeing the chaos, according to a report by The New York Times. It remains unclear, though, just how Washington arrived at these figures, given the unpredictability of war.

The Biden administration has disclosed several grim intelligence reports in recent weeks, including warnings that Moscow is planning to release a “false flag” video making Ukraine out to be the aggressor as a pretext for an invasion. The administration has come under heavy criticism from some members of the media, however, for not producing evidence to back them up. 

Meanwhile, 1,700 U.S. paratroopers arrived at Rzeszów-Jasionka Airport in eastern Poland Sunday in what Washington has described as an effort to “reassure” NATO allies. President Biden maintains that he will not send U.S. troops into Ukraine to fight a war but that the deployments to other Eastern-European locations fulfills America’s obligation under the NATO treaty agreement to respond to Russian aggression against allied territories.

Ukraine is a NATO partner but is not a full-fledged member – a key sticking point in standoff between the West and Moscow.