U.S. intelligence points to a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine in the next month

7 months ago

A BMP-2 amphibious infantry warring conveyance during tract firing signifier up of the 78th day of the guards vessel service of the Western Military District astatine the Golovenki scope extracurricular Moscow.

Sergei Bobylev | TASS | Getty Images

WASHINGTON – Intelligence agencies monitoring Russian cyber operations against Ukraine judge Russia's signifier of enactment could awesome a crushed penetration of Ukraine wrong the adjacent 30 days, the White House said Friday.

The caller timeline is the latest motion of however imminent the Biden medication believes a Russian onslaught against Ukraine could be, and however urgent its effort to negociate a peaceful colony has become.

The U.S. has pledged to respond to immoderate subject incursion with unprecedented economical sanctions connected members of Russian President Vladimir Putin's interior circle. But this could trigger retaliatory moves by Moscow against the West – up to and including cuts successful the vigor that flows from Russia to the remainder of the world. Russia is the largest supplier of oil, earthy state and ember to Europe.

Speaking to reporters astatine the White House connected Friday, property caput Jen Psaki said analysts had archetypal noticed a crisp uptick successful December of coordinated societal media misinformation via Russian-backed channels aimed astatine destabilizing the Ukrainian government.

"The Russian subject plans to statesman these activities respective weeks earlier a subject invasion, which could statesman betwixt mid-January and mid-February," Psaki said.

The revelation came conscionable hours aft Russian cyber operatives had disabled Ukraine's main authorities bureau websites, replacing the bureau homepages with a connection to each Ukrainians that read, successful part: "Be acrophobic and expect the worst. This is for your past, contiguous and future."

The menace facing Ukraine is acold much superior than a specified cyberattack. More than 200,000 Russian troops are presently positioned on the country's borderline with Ukraine. Based connected the unit movements, U.S. subject analysts spot the imaginable for galore antithetic penetration routes.

American quality agencies besides judge Russia has already "prepositioned a radical of operatives to behaviour a mendacious emblem cognition successful Eastern Ukraine," Psaki said. "The operatives are trained successful municipality warfare and successful utilizing explosives to transportation retired acts of sabotage against Russia's ain proxy forces."

These Russian operatives are portion of a broader effort by Moscow that is "laying the groundwork to person the enactment of fabricating a pretext for invasion" of Ukraine, Psaki said astatine her regular briefing.

As portion of this mendacious narrative, Psaki said Russian proxies connected societal media are already accusing Ukraine of readying an imminent onslaught against Russian forces successful Eastern Ukraine.

That way, if the prepositioned Russian operatives were to transportation retired a stealth onslaught connected Russian-backed forces successful Ukraine, Moscow could constituent to its anterior accusation and blasted the Ukrainians for the attack.

With a colonisation of 44 cardinal and a democratically elected government, station Cold-War Ukraine is simply a adjacent state of the United States and a perennial people for Moscow.

Fruitless negotiations

The latest revelations from Psaki came connected the heels of multiple high-stakes discussions betwixt U.S. and European officials and their Russian counterparts.

For months, Kyiv has warned the U.S. and European allies that Russian troops were massing on its eastbound border. The buildup has evoked Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea, a peninsula connected the Black Sea, which sparked an planetary uproar and triggered a bid of sanctions connected Moscow.

The seizure of Crimea besides saw Russia's removal from the "Group of 8," oregon G-8, referring to 8 large planetary economies.

In caller weeks, the Biden medication has issued repeated warnings that the U.S. is prepared to inflict greater economical countermeasures if Moscow further invades Ukraine.

"We are precise acceptable and aligned with our partners and allies to enforce those terrible costs," Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said Monday.

Sherman, who kicked disconnected talks with her Russian counterpart connected Monday successful Geneva, told reporters connected a league telephone that the sanctions look to people cardinal Russian fiscal institutions and export controls connected important industries.

Victoria Nuland, U.S. nether caput of State for governmental affairs, said Tuesday that the Biden medication was coordinating measures with NATO allies, the European Council arsenic good arsenic G-7 members.

Moscow defiant

Since 2002, Ukraine has sought introduction into NATO, where the group's Article 5 clause states that an onslaught connected 1 subordinate state is considered an onslaught connected each of them.

Russian officials said successful a property briefing this week that it is "absolutely mandatory to marque definite that Ukraine never, never, ever becomes a subordinate of NATO."

"We request ironclad, waterproof, bulletproof, legally binding guarantees. Not assurances, not safeguards, but guarantees," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said.

The Russian president has antecedently insisted that contempt the deployment of thousands of troops on Ukraine's border, Moscow is not preparing for an penetration of its ex-Soviet neighbor. Putin has besides defended the close to deploy troops connected Russia's borders and has accused NATO of escalating tensions by gathering up militaries successful states adjacent to Russia.

Russia has described NATO's eastward enlargement arsenic a "red line" that poses information threats to Moscow.

Last month, President Joe Biden spoke with Putin twice amid the important subject buildup connected the Ukrainian border. During the archetypal telephone connected Dec. 7, Biden declined to accept Putin's "red lines" connected Ukraine.

During the leaders' astir recent call, on Dec. 30, Biden reiterated concerns and renewed threats that his medication would "respond decisively" alongside allies and partners if Russia invades Ukraine.

-- CNBC's Patti Domm contributed to this story.