Pentagon leaders warn of a horrific aftermath if Russia invades Ukraine

3 months ago
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U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (L) and Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley (R) clasp a quality briefing astatine the Pentagon connected January 28, 2022 successful Arlington, Virginia.

Alex Wong | Getty Images

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon's apical officials warned Friday that a Russian penetration of Ukraine would effect successful a "horrific" aftermath.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army Gen. Mark Milley and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin elaborate the grim script arsenic U.S. and NATO forces hole for a imaginable Moscow onslaught connected its ex-Soviet neighbor.

"Given the benignant of forces that are arrayed, the crushed maneuver forces, the artillery, the ballistic missiles, the aerial forces, each of it packaged together. If that was unleashed connected Ukraine, it would beryllium significant, precise significant, and it would effect successful a important magnitude of casualties and you tin you ideate what that mightiness look similar successful dense municipality areas, each on roads, and truthful connected and truthful forth," Milley said.

"It would beryllium horrific," added Milley, the nation's highest-ranking subject officer.

The Pentagon's warnings came arsenic Russian President Vladimir Putin reviews U.S. diplomatic and information proposals that were hand-delivered by John Sullivan, the American ambassador to Russia. Russia initially offered a chilly response to the proposals.

"So we volition await what the Russian government's absorption and appraisal is to our written responses," Sullivan told reporters connected Friday from the U.S. Embassy successful Moscow. "And past arsenic Secretary of State Antony Blinken noted, I would expect that determination would beryllium a treatment oregon possibly a meeting. But I don't cognize that hasn't been agreed to."

Milley said that Russia's posture on Ukraine's borderline was dissimilar thing helium has seen during his four-decade subject career. He said the Russians person deployed aerial forces, naval forces, peculiar forces, cyber physics warfare, bid and control, logistics engineers and different capabilities on Ukraine's border.

"I deliberation you'd person to spell backmost rather a portion into the Cold War days to spot thing of this magnitude," Milley said, adding that the deployment of much than 100,000 Russian troops to the borderline was larger "than thing we've seen successful caller memory."

Austin called connected Moscow to de-escalate tensions by removing Russian troops and subject instrumentality from its shared border.

"Conflict is not inevitable. There is inactive clip and abstraction for diplomacy," Austin said.

"He [Putin] tin take to de-escalate. He tin bid his troops away. He tin take dialog and diplomacy. Whatever helium decides, the United States volition basal with our allies and partners."

For months, the West has watched a dependable build-up of Kremlin forces on Ukraine's borderline with Russia and Belarus. The accrued subject beingness mimics Russian moves up of its 2014 amerciable annexation of Crimea, a peninsula connected the Black Sea, which sparked an planetary uproar and triggered a bid of sanctions against Moscow.

The Kremlin has denied that the unit deployment is simply a prelude to an onslaught and has alternatively characterized the question arsenic a subject exercise.

Russian officials person meantime repeatedly called connected the U.S. to forestall an eastward enlargement of the NATO subject alliance.

Russia has besides demanded that the U.S. "shall not found subject bases" successful the territories of immoderate erstwhile Soviet states that are not already members of NATO, oregon "use their infrastructure for immoderate subject activities oregon make bilateral subject practice with them."

The U.S. and NATO person said that specified a petition cannot beryllium accommodated.

Since 2002 Kyiv has sought introduction into NATO, the world's astir almighty subject alliance.

While President Joe Biden has not committed to sending U.S. combat troops to Ukraine, American forces could deploy to neighboring NATO subordinate countries. In summation to sharing a borderline with Russia and Belarus, Ukraine is boarded by 4 NATO countries.

"We are ready, susceptible and prepared to uphold our work nether pact to NATO," Milley said, evoking the group's Article 5 clause, "an onslaught against 1 NATO state is an onslaught against each NATO."

Earlier this week, Biden told reporters that a full-scale Russian penetration of Ukraine would radically change European security. "If helium were to determination successful with each those forces, it'd beryllium the largest penetration since World War II. It would alteration the world," Biden said.

Biden spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy connected Thursday, the 2nd telephone this month, to reaffirm Washington's committedness to respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine. 

The president also told Zelenskyy that the U.S. Embassy successful Kyiv remains unfastened and afloat operational aft the State Department issued an bid for eligible family members of unit astatine its embassy successful Kyiv to leave.

The State Department besides recommended connected Sunday that each U.S. citizens successful Ukraine depart the state immediately, citing Russia's continued subject buildup connected the border.