US intelligence says Russia planning Ukraine offensive involving 175K troops: reports

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U.S. intelligence found that Russia is planning a military offensive against Ukraine involving 175,000 troops near the border as early as next year, according to an intelligence document obtained by The Washington Post.

U.S. officials also spoke with the newspaper on the matter.

The document obtained by the Post shows Russia is planning to deploy 175,000 troops to the Ukraine border by early 2022. The document also contains satellite photos of the military buildup.

The Post reported that Russia has "newly arrived" tanks and artillery, with 50 battlefield tactical groups deployed. The buildup is currently happening in four locations on the border, according to the document.

"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," an administration official told the outlet. "The plans involve extensive movement of 100 battalion tactical groups with an estimated 175,000 personnel, along with armor, artillery and equipment."

An official who spoke on the condition of anonymity confirmed to The Associated Press the number of troops, adding that almost half of the 175,000 are already deployed along various points on the Russia-Ukraine border.

The U.S. estimates Russia has roughly 70,000 troops on the ground currently.

A Ukrainian intelligence chief told the Military Times in November that Russia was planning an attack on the country by late January.

Along with the military buildup, the administration official said Russia has started a propaganda campaign against Ukraine and NATO.

"Additionally, in the past month, our information indicates Russian influence proxies and media outlets have started to increase content denigrating Ukraine and NATO, in part to pin the blame for a potential Russian military escalation on Ukraine," the administration official said.

The buildup along the border comes amid increased demands that the U.S. guarantee Ukraine is not allowed to join NATO.

However, the U.S. has balked at the request, with White House press secretary Jen Psaki saying, "NATO member countries decide who is a member of NATO, not Russia."

President Biden has made clear he will "make it very, very difficult" for Russia to launch any invasion of Ukraine.

"I have been in constant contact with our allies in Europe, with the Ukrainians. My secretary of State, national security adviser have been engaged extensively and what I am doing is putting together what I believe 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 said Friday.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at the Reuters Next conference that Biden will tell Russian President Vladimir Putin in a meeting next week that the U.S. will come to Ukraine's defense against the country.

The Hill has reached out to the State Department for comment.

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