US officials still say publicly and privately they don’t know if Putin has made a final decision on any type of military action, but behind the scenes, President Joe Biden’s national security and intelligence teams are calculating various scenarios. and potential results.
In closed and classified briefings in Congress as well as public press conferences, US officials are trying to paint a picture of the potentially disastrous results and the risk that Putin poses. There is a strong desire among American officials to explain to the American public why the fate of Ukraine could usher in an era of security and economic destabilization that could spread across the world.
Russia continues to add forces in the region almost daily, according to US estimates, and may soon have enough to begin an operation. Given everything Putin has done, as well as his public rhetoric on Ukraine and NATO, US officials generally believe he could make a decision soon, and more likely than not he will. will go ahead.
Officials constantly point out that the information they have leads them to make these estimates, but they are only estimates. But some are chilling.
For example, if Putin were to unleash all his military ground and air power on the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, the city could fall within 48 hours. They also calculate that Putin might decide on a multi-pronged operation, sending forces from multiple directions across Ukraine to quickly break the Ukrainian military’s ability to fight as a cohesive force; a Russian strategy that is a classic military move.
The Pentagon has openly hinted at the status of potential Russian invasion forces. “Mr. Putin continues to add forces, combined arms, offensive capabilities,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said earlier this week. “He showed no sign of interest or willingness to defuse tensions.” Putin has not only infantry and missile forces, but hundreds of fighter and bomber planes as well as attack helicopters at his disposal.
“Given the type of forces that are deployed … if it were unleashed against Ukraine, it would be significant, very significant, and it would result in a significant number of casualties,” Milley said. “You can imagine what it would look like in dense urban areas, along roads etc. It would be awful. It would be terrible.”
Based on publicly available weather calculations, the optimal time for a Russian invasion would be when there is hard ground freezing, so that heavy equipment can move easily. US officials said Putin would understand that he has to move by the end of March.