Unnamed US officials said as many as 50,000 Ukrainian civilians could be killed along with 25,000 soldiers if Russia invades.
Mariupol, Ukraine – Russia has achieved 70 percent of the military build-up it needs to launch a large-scale invasion of Ukraine, according to US officials quoted anonymously in US media.
During six hours of closed session last week, officials were warned by senior members of President Joe Biden’s administration that a swift capture of the capital Kiev is one of the most aggressive options, according to the Washington Post and New York Times.
While the unnamed officials said intelligence analysts did not believe Russian President Vladmir Putin had made the final decision to invade, they warned of as many as 50,000 civilian deaths and up to 25,000 Ukrainian soldiers killed if Russia proceeds.
On Sunday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba questioned US media reports.
“Don’t believe the apocalyptic prophecies. Different capitals have different scenarios, but Ukraine is ready for any development. Today Ukraine has a strong military, unprecedented international support and the confidence of Ukrainians in their country. This enemy should be afraid of us, not us,” Kuleba said.
Rights groups Amnesty International and the Norwegian Refugee Council have warned in recent weeks that a military escalation between Ukraine and Russia could spark another refugee crisis, driving millions of people from eastern Ukraine and areas controlled by pro-Russian forces.
“The threat of Russia’s use of military force already affects the human rights of millions of people in Ukraine and beyond,” said Agnes Callamard, Amnesty’s secretary-general.
“The effects of actual military force are likely to be devastating.”
The anonymous US officials quoted by US media also said a large Russian naval force is positioned in the Black Sea, equipped with five amphibious ships that could be used to land troops on Ukraine’s southern coast.
Possible attacks on Ukraine at the lower end of the scale could take the form of sabotage, cyber-attacks and other destabilizing actions aimed at removing the current government in Kiev, they said.
‘Madness and scaremongering’
The government of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy downplays the current threat to Ukraine by building tens of thousands of Russian troops and military equipment on the border and in annexed Crimea.
The United States and the United Kingdom have been accused of exaggerating the threat, something they have categorically denied.
Russian diplomat Dmitry Polyanskiy, a representative to the UN, called the latest US media reports of unnamed officials “madness and scaremongering”.
“What if we said the US could capture London in a week and cause 300,000 civilian deaths? All this based on our intelligence sources that we do not disclose,” he said in a Twitter post.
Another masterpiece of the American propaganda war. Unnamed officials, undisclosed sources, no evidence. And as we all saw, if you openly question such forgeries, you will not get answers and you will be labeled Russian apologist #KeepCalmAndBlameRussia https://t.co/b3fG9JKQby pic.twitter.com/KspNKuiSwz
— Dmitry Polyanskiy (@Dpol_un) February 6, 2022
Both sides have accused the other of planning false flag operations in recent days as a pretext for further military escalation.
US intelligence sources claimed that Russia is planning an operation involving fake drone strikes on the Donbas region, the colloquial term for eastern Ukraine, or on Russian territory, while Russian state television claimed Kiev was launching a NATO-backed attack on pro-Russian forces. separatists would launch .
European leaders are expected to visit both Moscow and Kiev this week to calm tensions.
French President Emmanuel Macron will visit on Monday and Tuesday, while German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will travel to Kiev on February 14 and to Moscow the following day.