War is happening ‘any day’ now at ‘huge human cost’

KEY POINTS

  • Up to 50,000 people could die if Russia invades Kiev, says Jake Sullivan
  • More than 80 battle groups of Russian battalions are now positioned near Ukraine
  • According to US intelligence assessment, Russia has amassed almost 75% of the total number of troops needed for a full invasion

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan has warned that Russia could invade Ukraine “any day” and start a war that could have “enormous human cost”.

During an appearance on “Fox News Sunday”, Sullivan issued a stark warning of a possible full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces. He told host Martha MacCallum that up to 50,000 people could die if Russia decides to seize Kiev, Ukraine’s capital.

“If war breaks out, it will have a huge human cost to Ukraine, but we believe that based on our preparations and our response, it will also have a strategic cost to Russia,” Sullivan said.

Besides the high death toll, a full Russian invasion of Kiev could result in up to five million refugees. At least 5,000 to 25,000 Ukrainian troops and 3,000 to 10,000 Russian troops would also most likely be killed in the invasion, a US official with direct knowledge of the government’s assessment told The Wall Street Journal.

Sullivan’s remarks come as Moscow positions more troops along the Ukrainian border. The latest US intelligence assessment indicates that 83 battalion battle groups are now positioned near the country. In comparison, there were only 60 groups in January and 53 in December.

The intelligence assessment also estimated that Russian President Vladimir Putin has already amassed nearly 75% of the total number of troops needed to invade Ukraine, including naval assault ships that could be used to take control of the country ports.

Despite dire warnings from US officials, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called for calm, adding that the country’s military was ready to react to any development.

“Ukraine has a powerful military, unprecedented international support and the faith of Ukrainians in their state. The enemy is the one who should fear us, not the other way around,” Kuleba said in a Tweeter.

Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia’s deputy representative to the United Nations, also dismissed the US intelligence assessment.

“Another masterpiece of American propaganda warfare. Anonymous officials, undisclosed sources, no evidence. And as we’ve all seen, if you openly question such forgeries, you won’t get answers and you’ll be branded a Russian apologist,” Polyanskiy said in a statement. declaration.

Ukrainian forces are deployed along an eastern frontline battling pro-Russian separatists Photo: AFP / Anatolii STEPANOV

Christi C. Elwood