White House advisor outlines possible Russian scenarios for Ukraine conflict escalation
An all-out invasion of Ukraine by Russia is just one scenario that could occur as a development in the Russian military buildup on the Ukrainian border, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said in an interview with the ABC News TV channel on Feb. 6.
Other possibilities include Russia conducting cyber-attacks, occupying a bigger portion of the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, or a smaller but significant territorial incursion.
“We believe that there is a very distinct possibility that (Russian President) Vladimir Putin will order an attack on Ukraine,” Sullivan said.
“It could take a number of different forms. It could happen as soon as tomorrow or it could take some weeks yet.”
At the same time, the White House advisor warned Russia of severe sanctions if more military actions are taken, saying that “if Russia moves a tank or troop into Ukraine, (the) Nord Stream 2 (gas pipeline) will not move forward.”
He added that the United States is working with allies and continues to advocate for the path of diplomacy.
Earlier on Feb. 6, the Reuters news agency reported that Russia has in place about 70% of the combat power it believes it would need for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and is sending more battalion tactical groups to the Russian-Ukrainian border.
Russia has been massing troops at the border since late October.
More than 130,000 Russian troops and offensive weapons have been deployed near Ukraine’s borders and in the temporarily occupied territories, according to the latest intelligence estimate from the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.
Both U.S. and European officials have expressed concern over the situation. U.S. President Joe Biden in December declared that the White House was working out “the most comprehensive and meaningful set of initiatives to make it very, very difficult for (Russian President Vladimir) Putin to go ahead and do what people are worried he may do.”
The proposed measures include cutting Russia off from the SWIFT international banking system, personal sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin and his inner circle, and a ban on U.S. dollar transactions with Russia.
On Jan. 14, the U.K.-based Guardian newspaper and the U.S.-based CNN news channel reported that Russia had positioned covert operatives in Ukraine to carry out a “false flag” operation to use as a pretext for a Russian attack.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Jan. 28 that Russia is not interested in a war, but will not allow its “security interests” to be neglected. The Kremlin demands that the United States and NATO guarantee that Ukraine will never join the alliance.
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