Russia has mustered enough troops to “capture any city” in Ukraine, but it still falls short of the numbers needed for a full occupation, the former Ukrainian defense minister has said.
“Russia could now seize any city in Ukraine. But we still don’t see the 200,000 troops needed for a full-scale invasion,” Andriy Zagorodnyuk told the Guardian.
The US assessment and Zagorodnyuk’s comments came after an updated US military and intelligence assessment, shared with US lawmakers, warned that 50,000 civilians could be killed or injured in an invasion, according to the Washington Post.
The assessment indicated that Russia could overthrow the Ukrainian government within two days and five million people would become refugees, The Post said.
Zagorodnyuk told the Guardian that the situation in his country was “rather dire”.
In Washington, DC, senior US officials have publicly warned that an invasion could happen any day.
“Overnight, Russia could take military action against Ukraine or it could take a few weeks, or Russia could choose to take the diplomatic route instead.”
On Monday, Biden is due to meet German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the White House to discuss Germany’s response to the crisis, which has so far seen Berlin refuse to provide military aid to Ukraine.
Also on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron is due to meet Putin in Moscow to discuss a diplomatic solution, then fly to Kiev to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday.
However, Zagorodnyuk told the Guardian it was still difficult to understand Putin’s long-term plan.
“We don’t see a political endgame here. If Putin seizes Kiev, there will be a full-scale war. Ukrainian army forces will fight. There will be enormous resistance forever. Why would you that?” he said.
“Ukraine is not going to say, ‘Let’s join Russia.’ That’s understood. Unless, of course, Putin is totally delusional and has his own understanding of reality. There will be blood, penalties.
“Nobody needs this kind of international war in Europe right now.”