Amid a growing number of crises and challenges engulfing his administration, President Joe Biden now unexpectedly finds himself having to contend with reports that Russia is planning to launch an offensive against Ukraine that could involve as many as 175,000 troops, according to the Washington Post.
An intelligence document secured by the outlet indicates that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been amassing troops along his country’s border with Ukraine at the same time he is demanding assurances from Washington that, among other things, his neighbor will not be permitted to join NATO.
The aforementioned intelligence document included a prognostication that upwards of 175,000 troops are likely to be sent by Putin to the border and revealed that there has already been significant movement of battalion groups both toward and away from the area in question as a means to “obfuscate intentions and to create uncertainty.”
Last week, during a trip to Europe, Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed the growing evidence of Putin’s intentions and suggested that if the Russian president continues along this path, there would be serious consequences, including dramatic economic ones.
Prior to Blinken’s travels, Karen Donfried, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs indicated that “all options are on the table, and there’s a toolkit that includes a whole range of options,” when it comes to dealing with possible Russian aggression toward Ukraine.
When asked on Friday about the administration’s response to the evolving situation, Biden himself explained, “What I am doing is putting together what I believe to be, 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.”
Putin, for his part, has continued to stress that any American or allied military intervention in Ukraine near the Russian border would constitute a red line in terms of the Kremlin’s response.
The Russian leader asserted that his country requires “precise legal, judicial guarantees” from Washington that “rule out any further eastward expansion of NATO and the deployment of weapons systems posing a threat to us in close proximity to Russia’s territory,” a demand that White House press secretary Jen Psaki said was a non-starter, according to the Post.
With tensions continuing to rise, Biden and Putin are slated to conduct a video meeting on Tuesday, with the latter’s border troop buildup certainly on the agenda, according to CBS News, but whether stern words of warning from this administration will be sufficient to temper Putin’s ambition in this regard, only time will tell.