Russia is planning a military offensive against Ukraine, which could begin as soon as early 2022, according to United States intelligence officials.
The finding estimates that Moscow is planning to use 175,000 troops and almost half of them are already deployed along various points near Ukraine‘s border, according to an anonymous official in Joe Biden‘s administration.
The official added that plans call for the movement of 100 battalion tactical groups along with armour, artillery and equipment.
It comes as Mr Biden pledged on Friday to make it “very, very difficult” for Vladimir Putin to take military action in Ukraine.
“We’ve been aware of Russia’s actions for a long time and my expectation is we’re gonna have a long discussion with Putin,” Mr Biden said.
“I don’t accept anyone’s red line.”
US intelligence officials have also observed an uptick in Russian propaganda through the use of proxies and media outlets to denigrate Ukraine and NATO ahead of a potential invasion, the White House official said.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials also warned that Russia could invade in the new year.
Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on Friday that the number of Russian troops near Ukraine and in Russia-annexed Crimea is estimated at 94,300, warning that a “large-scale escalation” is possible in January.
The Kremlin has previously dismissed accusations from Washington that it is preparing for an invasion, while the US has threatened to hit Russia with the harshest sanctions yet if it takes military action against Ukraine.
Russia has also picked up its demands on Mr Biden to guarantee that Ukraine will not be allowed to join NATO and has warned the US it will respond if Ukraine is drawn into any “geopolitical games“.