WASHINGTON – The Pentagon’s top officials warned Friday that a Russian invasion of Ukraine would result in a “horrific” aftermath.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army Gen. Mark Milley and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin detailed the grim scenario as U.S. and NATO forces prepare for a potential Moscow attack on its ex-Soviet neighbor.
“Given the type of forces that are arrayed, the ground maneuver forces, the artillery, the ballistic missiles, the air forces, all of it packaged together. If that was unleashed on Ukraine, it would be significant, very significant, and it would result in a significant amount of casualties and you can you imagine what that might look like in dense urban areas, all along roads, and so on and so forth,” Milley said.
“It would be horrific,” added Milley, the nation’s highest-ranking military officer.
The Pentagon’s warnings came as Russian President Vladimir Putin reviews U.S. diplomatic and security proposals that were hand-delivered by John Sullivan, the American ambassador to Russia. Russia initially offered a chilly response to the proposals.
“So we will await what the Russian government’s reaction and assessment is to our written responses,” Sullivan told reporters on Friday from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. “And then as Secretary of State Antony Blinken noted, I would expect that there would be a discussion or perhaps a meeting. But I don’t know that hasn’t been agreed to.”
Milley said that Russia’s posture along Ukraine’s border was unlike anything he has seen during his four-decade military career. He said the Russians have deployed air forces, naval forces, special forces, cyber electronic warfare, command and control, logistics engineers and other capabilities along Ukraine’s border.
“I think you’d have to go back quite a while into the Cold War days to see something of this magnitude,” Milley said, adding that the deployment of more than 100,000 Russian troops to the border was larger “than anything we’ve seen in recent memory.”
Austin called on Moscow to de-escalate tensions by removing Russian troops and military equipment from its shared border.
“Conflict is not inevitable. There is still time and space for diplomacy,” Austin said.
“He [Putin] can choose to de-escalate. He can order his troops away. He can choose dialogue and diplomacy. Whatever he decides, the United States will stand with our allies and partners.”
For months, the West has watched a steady build-up of Kremlin forces along Ukraine’s border with Russia and Belarus. The increased military presence mimics Russian moves ahead of its 2014 illegal annexation of Crimea, a peninsula on the Black Sea, which sparked an international uproar and triggered a series of sanctions against Moscow.
The Kremlin has denied that the troop deployment is a prelude to an attack and has instead characterized the movement as a military exercise.
Russian officials have meanwhile repeatedly called on the U.S. to…
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