The U.S. is prepared to add troops near Ukraine and “impose severe costs” on Russia if it doesn’t stop its aggressive military buildup near Ukraine’s border, a senior administration official said on Thursday.
“We have said we will increase support for Ukraine’s ability to defend its own territory and also to reassure our NATO partners and allies by changes in our force posture in frontline states. All that planning is well underway on our side, and we are ready to act if and when we need to,” the senior administration official said during a press call attended by American Military News.
The administration has planned out responses to a Russian invasion and is prepared to carry out those plans at a moment’s notice.
“If Russia goes ahead with what may be underway, we and our allies are prepared to impose severe costs that would damage Russia’s economy and bring about exactly what it says it does not want: more NATO capabilities, not less; closer to Russia, not further away,” the official added.
The official said the administration has made it clear to Russia that it will incur “significant consequences” if it continues “a further military invasion of Ukraine,” a point that President Joe Biden directly warned Russian President Vladimir Putin during their virtual call earlier this month.
Russia now has about 265,000 troops stationed within 250 miles of its border with Ukraine, according to a new assessment of troop movements by Ukrainian Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Oleksiy Danilov.
Among the 265,000 Russian troops, 122,000 are located within 200 km (125 miles) of the Russian border with Ukraine. Another 143,500 troops are located between 200 and 400 km (250 miles) of the Ukrainian border. Previous assessments had estimated the number of Russian troops near Ukraine’s border to be between 80,000 and 110,000.
“We have additional resources, and the territorial defense, if necessary, will repel the aggressor,” Danilov said this week.
On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed Russia’s troop buildup on Ukraine’s border is in response to aggressive actions over the years by NATO.
“They are to blame for what is happening in Europe now, for the escalation of tensions there,” Putin said. “Russia had to respond at every step, and the situation was continuously going from bad to worse. It was deteriorating all the time. And here we are today, in a situation when we are forced to resolve it.”
Putin also said, “If our Western colleagues continue their obviously aggressive line, we will take appropriate military-technical reciprocal measures and will have a tough response to their unfriendly steps.”
Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. has evidence Russia is planning to attack.
“We’re deeply concerned by evidence that Russia made plans for significant aggressive moves against Ukraine,” Blinken said. “The plans include efforts to destabilize Ukraine from within, as well as large scale military operations.”