Russia has nearly all the forces in place for a large-scale invasion of Ukraine: Defense official
( USA Today )
Russia has massed nearly all the forces – infantry, artillery, cruise and ballistic missiles – it will need to mount a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, a senior Defense official told USA TODAY.
Those forces include two dozen warships in the Black Sea and represent nearly 100% of the combat power needed for a large-scale at, said the official who briefed reporters but was not authorized to speak publicly.
The strategic movement of Russian forces comes as Ukraine was poised to implement a 30-day state of emergency on Wednesday. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called up military reservists, as Russia recognized two separatist regions as independent and appeared mobilized for major military action.
Zelenskyy said that Ukraine wants "silence" but noted it must act. "But if we remain silent today, we will disappear tomorrow," he said late Tuesday.
The nation's parliament must approve the emergency declaration, initiated by Ukraine's security council and coming a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin received permission from lawmakers to use troops outside the country.
The Kremlin's actions drew wide condemnation and major sanctions from the United States and European Union.
“Russia just announced that it is carving out a big chunk of Ukraine,” President Joe Biden said Tuesday. And that served as the trigger for the U.S. to impose sanctions targeting Moscow's banks and some elite individuals. Biden said Russia "will pay an even steeper price" if aggression continues.
On Wednesday, Biden announced new sanctions on the company overseeing the Russian-owned gas pipeline Nord Stream 2, as well as its corporate officers, in response to Moscow’s invasion.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other officials have remained on an even keel, downplaying any threat, even as their nation has become nearly surrounded by over 150,000 Russian troops, built up over months.
Zelenskyy continued talks on Tuesday with neighboring leaders, speaking with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Diplomacy between Russia and Western allies appeared all but dead, following the announcement of penalties. Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled his Thursday meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.