- President Joe Biden said he would make it “very, very difficult’ for Russia to attack Ukraine.
- US intelligence warned Russia is planning an offensive attack with as many as 175,000 troops next year, The Washington Post reported.
- Russia, meanwhile, has demanded Ukraine remain out of NATO.
President Joe Biden on Friday warned Russian President Vladimir Putin against taking military action against Ukraine after US intelligence warned of Russia’s plans to launch an offensive attack as early as 2022.
“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,” Biden told reporters outside Camp David in Maryland on Friday, according to the Associated Press.
A Biden administration official told the Associated Press that US intelligence has determined Russia plans to deploy 175,000 troops to Ukraine, and about half of them are already stationed near the Ukrainian border.
“What I am doing is putting together what I believe to be will be the most comprehensive and meaningful set of initiatives to make it very, very difficult for Mr. Putin to go ahead and do what people are worried he may do,” Biden also said Friday.
According to the Washington Post, which first reported the US intelligence information on Friday, the Kremlin is planning an offensive attack as early as next year. It’s also demanding the US promise the Ukraine will not join NATO and that NATO will stay out of the region, according to the Post report.
“I don’t accept anyone’s red line,” Biden said, per the AP.
According to the unclassified document seen by the Post, Russian troops are currently stationed in four locations with 50 battlefield tactical groups deployed with tanks and artillery, according to the Post.
“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 snap exercise near Ukraine’s borders,” a senior administration official told the Washington Post. “The plans involve extensive movement of 100 battalion tactical groups with an estimated 175,000 personnel, along with armor, artillery and equipment.”
One Biden administration official told the Associated Press the US has seen an increase in Russian propaganda by proxies and media outlets to weaken Ukraine and NATO.
According to the AP, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the US is close to setting up a call next week between Biden and Putin.
“It certainly would be an opportunity to discuss our serious concerns about the bellicose rhetoric, about the military buildup that we’re seeing on the border of Ukraine,” Psaki said, according to the AP.
A source close to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Biden and Zelensky were also working to set up a call next week, the AP reported.