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Pentagon warns Russian invasion of Ukraine is ‘imminent’

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III talks with sailors aboard the USS Harry S. Truman, from the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., Dec. 22, 2021. (DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)
January 28, 2022

The Pentagon said on Thursday that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is “imminent.”

Department of Defense Press Secretary John Kirby told reporters during a press briefing on Thursday that the U.S. has maintained that an invasion was “imminent,” but would not reveal a time frame that the administration predicts the invasion will take place.

“I’m not going to speculate on timing. We’ve always said, and said for quite some time that another incursion by Russia could be imminent. And imminent means imminent. So, we’re watching this every single day,” Kirby said. “The only thing I’d add is, we still don’t believe that there’s been a final decision by Mr. Putin to launch another invasion.”

Kirby said “imminent” doesn’t mean an attack will take place “tomorrow,” and the administration has considered an attack imminent “for a couple of months now” based on Russia’s movement of military assets near Ukraine.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki also echoed Kirby’s comments, saying on Thursday, “We can’t get in the mind of President Putin, but obviously, an invasion could happen at any time.  But we have not made a prediction of that; the President has not made a prediction of the timing.  And again, we’ll let others assess what tens of thousands of troops at the border means.”

The U.S. has place 8,500 troops on ready-to-deploy orders. Kirby said some of those troops include the 82nd Airborne Division and the 18th Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, N.C., the 4th Infantry at Fort Carson, Colo., as well as troops at Fort Campbell, Ky., Fort Davis-Monthan, Ariz.; Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Lewis McChord, Wash.; Fort Polk, La.; Robins Air Force Base, Ga.; Fort Stewart, Ga.; Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; and “select additional locations in the U.S.”

“These units all told include medical support, aviation support, logistics support, and of course, combat formations,” Kirby said, though he would not say how many of the 8,500 troops were combat troops.

Despite the U.S.’s preparations for an imminent Russian attack, Ukraine took a less urgent approach and expressed on Thursday that they did not anticipate a Russian invasion in the next two weeks as diplomatic efforts are undertaken.

“The good news is that [Russian] advisers agreed to meet in Berlin in two weeks, which means that Russia for the next two weeks is likely to remain on the diplomatic track,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said, according to Reuters.

“We understand that a military operation is something they keep in the pocket, it’s not something they put ahead of other options,” he added.

Regardless of Ukraine’s assessments, the U.S. has ordered all families of U.S. government personnel in Kyiv, Ukraine to leave the country “immediately” due to the “increased threats” of a Russian invasion.

The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv released a message on Wednesday urging all Americans to leave Ukraine. “The security situation in Ukraine continues to be unpredictable due to the increased threat of Russian military action and can deteriorate with little notice,” the message said.