US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said that Russian military action against Ukraine could happen at any moment, in conjunction with NATO war games in the Mediterranean and Russia in the Black Sea.
Sullivan added that Russia has prepared the capabilities necessary to launch a major military operation against Ukraine, stressing that Washington is intensifying its efforts to prepare a response to the Russian escalation, as well as mobilizing allies and supporting Ukraine.
An American aircraft carrier group was placed under NATO’s operational command in the Mediterranean and the Adriatic Sea, for the first time since the end of the Cold War, and in conjunction with Western accusations that Russia was preparing to invade Ukraine.
The “Neptune Strike 22” maneuvers, planned since 2020, aim to enhance the ability to effectively cooperate and integrate. Two aircraft carriers, 15 ships, 90 warplanes and forces from 28 NATO countries are participating in the maneuvers.
The Russian response to NATO’s movements in the eastern Mediterranean was not delayed, as Moscow launched maneuvers in the Black Sea on Sunday to ensure the safety of navigation.
The Russian Black Sea Fleet said that the exercises included fixed and mobile radar sites in the Crimea, and combat crews worked to provide navigational guidance to ships at sea.
In the same context, the United States deployed F-15 interceptor fighters in Estonia to monitor the movements of Russian aviation in NATO’s eastern flank, for the first time since the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis.
German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht also said Germany was considering sending additional troops to Lithuania, as tension continued to rise over Russian military buildup near Ukraine.
US officials have announced that US intelligence believes that Russia is intensifying its preparations for a large-scale invasion of Ukraine, and that it already has 70 percent of the force needed to carry out such an operation.
Moscow has massed 110,000 troops on Ukraine’s border and could have enough capacity to launch an attack within two weeks, according to those officials who have told elected members of the US Congress and the US’s European partners in recent days.
They pointed out that US intelligence did not determine whether Russian President Vladimir Putin had taken the decision to move to the offensive or not, and that he wanted all possible options before him, from a partial invasion of the separatist enclave of Donbass to a complete invasion.
They warned that the conflict will have a great human cost in light of the possibility that it will cause the deaths of between 25,000 and 50,000 civilians, between 5,000 and 25,000 Ukrainian soldiers, and between 3,000 and 10,000 Russian soldiers, and could cause an influx of 1 million to 5 million. Refugees mainly to Poland.
The officials stressed that US intelligence believed that Putin had not made a final decision to invade Ukraine, but satellite imagery showed that he had gathered everything he needed to do what officials said would be the largest military operation in Europe since 1945.
Dmitry Polyansky, Russia’s deputy representative to the United Nations, described Western warnings of an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine and the overthrow of its government in two days; It was madness and panic, he said.
Commenting on US intelligence and military assessments cited by the Washington Post, Polyansky wrote on his Twitter page, “The madness and panic continues,” according to what Russia Today reported.
Today, Sunday, the Ukrainian presidency considered that the chances of finding a “diplomatic solution” to the crisis with Russia are “much greater” than a military escalation.