Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Russia is moving toward an imminent invasion of Ukraine and laid out how U.S. intelligence believes such an operation will begin in the coming days, despite Moscow’s recent claims of reducing some of the 150,000 troops amassed along the Ukrainian border.
“Russia says it’s drawing down those forces,” Blinken said Thursday at the United Nations Security Council meeting in New York City. “We do not see that happening on the ground. Our information indicates clearly that these forces, including ground troops, aircraft, ships, are preparing to launch an attack against Ukraine in the coming days.”
Officials from the Biden Administration claim that the Russians have increased their troop numbers, deployed combat aircraft, and stored blood at the border to prepare for an attack in the past 24 hours. Blinken presented a nightmare scenario with multiple stages that Moscow is likely to repeat in order to justify a military attack on Ukraine. “We are laying it out in great detail, with the hope that by sharing what we know with the world, we can influence Russia to abandon the path of war and choose a different path while there’s still time,” Blinken said.
Under such a false-flag operation, he alleged Moscow will create a “fake” or “even a real chemical weapons attack” in Ukraine; then convene “emergency meetings” to address the so-called crisis; then issue proclamations that it must respond to defend ethnic Russians inside Ukraine; and ultimately launch an invasion that would lead all the way into the Ukrainian capital.
Blinken admitted that the U.S.’s decision to describe the possibility of a Russian invasion without providing hard evidence would face criticisms. “I am here today not to start a war, but to prevent one,” he said. “The information I presented here is validated by what we’ve seen unfolding in plain sight before our eyes for months.”
Indeed. It is true. Maxar Technologies, a private U.S. satellite imagery firm, published 23 photos on Monday that demonstrated increased Russian military activity around the Ukrainian borderlands—contrary to the troop draw-down that Moscow had claimed.
Blinken’s unscheduled appearance, which came just before he headed to a security conference in Munich, came among a flurry of escalations in the Ukraine crisis. On Thursday, the State Department said Russia expelled the U.S. Embassy’s second-ranking diplomat, Deputy Chief of Mission Bart Gorman, last week without cause. On Wednesday, the Pentagon said three U.S. Navy patrol aircraft “experienced unprofessional intercepts” over the weekend by Russian warplanes in mid-flight over the Mediterranean Sea in international airspace. Meanwhile, Russia- and Ukraine-backed separatists exchanged accusations of ceasefire violations.
U.S. was prompted to take action due to the growing number of international events. The U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield asked Blinken to address the U.N. Security Council before she left for the Munich Security Conference. After laying out the U.S. case, Blinken called on Moscow to pull back its troops, tanks and planes from Ukraine’s borders to bases inside Russia and send “diplomats to the negotiating table” instead. Russia now has troops, tanks, and artillery surrounding Ukraine from all directions: Russia to its east, Belarus to the north and Moldova to the west, as well as Crimea which Russia illegally seizes from Ukraine in 2014.
Ben Hodges was a retired lieutenant colonel who had commanded all U.S. Army forces throughout Europe. “But I believe, at the end of the day, that they really want to squeeze Ukraine, like a boa constrictor, until the economy and the government collapse,” he said.
Biden’s Administration believes diplomacy is the best way to address the situation. The U.S. has been forced to develop more aggressive strategies in order to stop Putin’s rise due to the lack of progress and continued Russian buildup. The President Joe Biden sent troops, ships, warplanes and planes to eastern Europe in recent weeks. In Kyiv, he also moved the Embassy staff and advised all Americans that they should leave Ukraine as soon as possible.
Since the Russian troop buildup began late last year, Putin has maintained that his forces do not intend to move on Ukraine, but he remains concerned over the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) military expansion along its borders in recent decades. What does Putin want to do? Russian diplomats gave their American counterparts on Thursday a list of answers to a variety of topics of mutual concern. These included missile deployments in Europe and increased disclosure about military drills.
Russia stipulated, however, that for those diplomatic talks to move forward, NATO must cease its eastward expansion and end the U.S. military’s ties with Ukraine and other former Soviet nations—concessions the U.S. has already dismissed as non-starters. “Essentially the response was, ‘We won’t start negotiating on these individual items—you need to accept our ultimatums first,’” said Rose Gottemoeller, former deputy secretary general of NATO and a long-time U.S. diplomat. “So once again, it doesn’t look like Putin wants to negotiate, he’s just playing with us.”