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Top US general says Russia has enough troops and weapons in place to invade Ukraine with ‘very little warning’

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley speaks at a press conference in the briefing room at the Pentagon on March 2, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Olivier Douliery/Getty Images

  • Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops at the Ukrainian border, according to the Pentagon.
  • Gen. Mark Milley said the Russian military buildup was the largest in recent memory, probably since the Cold War.
  • He said that Russia has enough troops in position to invade Ukraine with “little warning.”

The top US general warned at a Pentagon press conference on Friday that Russia has enough troops and hardware in position around Ukraine to invade its neighbor with “very little warning.” 

US Army Gen. Mark Milley, who serves as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that the presence and posture of the Russian forces near the Ukrainian border “feels different” and “larger in scale and scope” than anything seen in recent memory.

“I think you’d have to go back quite a while into the Cold War days to see something of this magnitude,” he said.

Milley said Russia “has amassed upwards at this time of over 100,000 ground forces, air forces, naval forces, special forces, cyber, electronic warfare, command and control, logistics, engineers, and other capabilities along the Ukraine border.”

Asked if Russia had a force presence sufficient to launch a major military offensive against Ukraine, the general said that “with 100,000 troops, and you’ve got combined arms formations, ground maneuver, artillery, rockets, you got air, and all the other pieces and parts that go with it, there is a potential that they could launch on very very little warning.”

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told reporters the troops and “amount of hardware” on the border region exceeds usual military exercises, calling Putin’s latest moves “very concerning.”

Russia has stated that it does not intend to invade or pursue war with Ukraine, but Western nations remain unconvinced given Russia’s aggressive force posture. Both Milley and Austin urged Putin to stand down. 

“We strongly encourage Russia to stand down and to pursue a resolution through diplomacy,” Milley said. “Armed force should always be a last resort. Success here is through dialogue.”

Milley and Austin echoed the White House, which said Russia could launch an attack “at any point” and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who said during a visit to Kyiv last Wednesday that Russia could attack Ukraine “on very short notice.”

Blinken argued that Russia’s threats undermined international order and that the situation was “bigger than Ukraine.”

“If we allow those principles to be violated with impunity, then we will open a very large Pandora’s box,” Blinken said while in the Ukrainian capital. “The entire world is watching what is happening here.”

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