US intelligence warned that Russia could invade Ukraine in 2022.


A report from Washington said troops would be ready to cross the border with around 100,000 soldiers for a potentially protracted occupation. Moscow also secretly summoned thousands of reservists and stepped up maneuvers to destabilize Kyiv.

The United States shared intelligence with its European allies showing a build-up of Russian troops and artillery poised for a rapid and large-scale invasion of Ukraine from multiple locations, amid mounting concerns from Washington about the possible intentions of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The United States relayed that intelligence, including maps, with some NATO members last week, sources familiar with the matter revealed to Bloomberg.

According to intelligence collected by the US, Russian troops would cross into Ukraine from Crimea, the Russian border, and through Belarus, with around 100 battalion tactical groups, potentially around 100,000 soldiers, in operation carried out in rugged terrain and adverse weather conditions. It would be a potentially prolonged occupation, according to the information.

According to two sources cited by the US media, approximately half of tactical groups were already in position. Any invasion would be backed by air support.

Furthermore, Russia secretly summoned thousands of reservists on a scale unprecedented in post-Soviet times. According to sources, the reservists would secure the territory after the tactical battalions paved the way.

The United States also shared information about an exponential increase in disinformation against Kyiv. Moscow had recruited agents to try to destabilize Ukraine.

Putin's intentions, an enigma

The concentration of Russian troops near Ukraine has perplexed US officials and complicated the response of the Joe Biden administration, following the imposition of sanctions on Russia for its role in the Ukraine conflict, cyberattacks on the infrastructure of United States, and the interference in the American elections.

Some Republican lawmakers have been pressuring the United States to step up military support for Ukraine. But it could turn what may be a simple Putin show of force into a full-blown confrontation that only increases the danger for Ukraine and could trigger an energy crisis in Europe.

But a weak American response carries its risks. It could encourage Putin to take more aggressive action against Ukraine as fears grow to attempt to seize more of its territory. And it could cause more political damage to President Joe Biden when his popularity is falling.

Knowing how to strike the right balance would be easier if the United States understood what Putin is trying to achieve. But top officials admit they don't know.

"We are not sure exactly what Mr. Putin is doing," Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said last Wednesday. A week earlier, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: "We do not have clarity about Moscow's intentions, but we know his playbook," alluding to the Russian strategy of gathering forces near the border and then invade," claiming falsely that it was provoked."

Representative Mike Quigley, a Democrat from Illinois and a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said that a better understanding of Putin's intentions was critical" to avoid the mistakes that have started great wars. "

Any response from the United States must be calibrated to avoid being "a pacifier or a provocateur," he said.

"This is a difficult area, difficult to try to get information," he said. "It is a challenge that is as tough or more difficult than it has ever been. It has a pretty severe impact on our ability to make the right decisions. "

Russia seized the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine in 2014. An ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine between Kyiv and Russian-backed rebels in the region known as Donbas has left an estimated 14,000 dead.

Diplomatic efforts

America's allies are also increasingly concerned. On Friday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that the alliance is experiencing an "unusual concentration" of Russian forces along the Ukraine border, warning that Moscow used the same types of details in the past to intervene in neighboring countries.

Although US officials do not believe an invasion is imminent, Putin has also stepped up his campaign against an independent Ukraine. A lengthy essay in July asserts that Ukrainians and Russians are "one people" and that "true sovereignty of Ukraine is only possible in association with Russia."

But the measures could also be saber-rattling to prevent Ukraine from moving closer to the West or being admitted to NATO, something Putin strongly opposes. It is unclear whether Russia would risk invading Ukraine, unleashing a much more brutal war, or occupying hostile territory.

A similar Russian military build-up in the spring did not lead to an invasion. However, lawmakers and officials say they are more concerned now, citing US intelligence.

Russia denies having aggressive motives, insisting it responds to increased NATO activity near its borders and the strengthening of Ukraine's armed forces.

The White House said it hopes to reduce tensions. "As we have made clear in the past, intensive or aggressive actions by Russia would be of great concern to the United States," a spokesman for the National Security Council said in a statement.

There has been a wave of diplomacy in recent weeks. US leaders have met with their Russian and Ukrainian counterparts, including a visit by CIA Director William Burns to Moscow. He spoke to Putin by phone. In addition, Germany and France have issued a joint statement affirming their support for Ukraine.

On Monday, the Russian foreign intelligence service (SVR) denied Western accusations that Moscow is planning an invasion of Ukraine. "The Americans are painting a terrifying picture of hordes of Russian tanks that will begin to crush Ukrainian cities, saying that they have 'reliable information of Russian intentions," the SVR said in a statement to Russian news agencies, stating that the accusations are "absolutely false."