New U.S. intelligence assessments say there are more indications than ever that Russia could invade eastern Ukraine, as congressional lawmakers reacted with alarm to Vladimir Putin’s rapidly expanding military buildup along the border.
“The thinking in the U.S. government is that the likelihood of a major Russian incursion into Ukraine has increased,” a senior U.S. official told Fox News.
The new thinking is based mostly off analysis of public information, such as heightened rhetoric from Putin and his claims that Russian-speaking people in Ukraine face “brutality.” He is building a public case for more military action, according to senior U.S. officials.
Also significant is the large buildup of Russian forces along the border with Ukraine. …
Some have estimated the troop strength to be at about 30,000 — Rep. Michael Turner, R-Ohio, though, claimed Thursday that the number could be as high as 80,000. It is believed that an additional 50,000 troops may have flooded the region in the last few days. …
Gen. Philip Breedlove, NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe, gave a classified briefing Thursday morning to members of the House Armed Services Committee. He plans to give several briefings, including on the Senate side.
“We’re all concerned about what Russia is doing on the border of Ukraine,” Breedlove said after the first briefing. “The size of the forces have a message that are not congruous with respecting the borders.”
After the briefing, one committee aide said: “Nothing that happened in the briefing calmed the sense of alarm expressed by members yesterday.”