By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
WASHINGTON/MOSCOW (Worthy News)— The United States says Russia has enough forces near Ukraine to carry out a range of military options, including actions short of a full-scale invasion. Washington’s warning comes as Moscow made clear that the West rejected its security demands to de-escalate the crisis.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin fears Russia’s more than 100,000 forces could strike Ukraine in different ways.
He told reporters that while Russian President Vladimir Putin has not decided to use these troops against Ukraine, “he clearly now has that capability”.
And, “there are multiple options available to him, including the seizure of cities and significant territories, but also coercive acts or provocative political acts like the recognition of breakaway territories,” Austin noted.
Austin added that Russia is involved in a propaganda campaign about alleged Ukrainian activities against the Russian-speaking community in eastern Ukraine to create a pretext for an invasion.
The top U.S. General Mark Milley says a Russian invasion of Ukraine would be “horrific” and lead to a significant number of casualties. “We strongly encourage Russia to stand down and to pursue a resolution through diplomacy. Armed force should always be the last
resort,” Milley said.
He warned Moscow that at least 8,500 troops had been put on higher alert for potential deployment to support and reassure NATO military alliance allies in Eastern Europe. “The president and the secretary of Defence have authorized the United States military to increase our readiness in the event we have to reinforce or assist our NATO allies,” Milley stressed.
There are no signs of a breakthrough in the crisis to ease tensions.
In Moscow, the Kremlin said Putin told his French counterpart President Emmanuel Macron that the West failed to consider Russian security concerns.
And Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a radio interviewer that Russia doesn’t want war but sees no room for compromise on its demands. Russia’s several security demands include a promise by NATO not to accept Ukraine as a member.
Washington refuses to obey, saying it is up to the former Soviet nation to join the alliance.
While Moscow maintains it has “no intention” to invade Ukraine, the West isn’t convinced. Western allies point out that Russia already annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in 2014 and supports pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country in a conflict that claimed some 14,000 lives.
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