“I will be moving US troops to Eastern Europe in NATO countries shortly,” Biden told reporters when asked about a timeline for moving the troops, adding that he had no updates on the situation in Ukraine.
As many as 8,500 U.S. troops had been placed on enhanced readiness earlier this week to prepare for deployment to Eastern Europe — including units with “medical support, aviation support, logistics support” and “combat formation,” a Pentagon spokesman said. .
“Given the type of troops deployed … if that were to be unleashed on Ukraine it would be significant, very significant and would result in a significant number of casualties,” Milley said at a Pentagon news conference Friday. “You can imagine what that might look like in densely populated urban areas, along roads and so on and so forth. It would be horrible. It would be horrible. And it’s not necessary. And we think a diplomatic outcome is the right thing to do.” here.”
Milley, who along with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin briefed reporters Friday about the US military’s preparations, spoke about Ukraine’s geography, noting that when the “high water table” freezes, “it provides optimal conditions for maneuvers across the globe.” land and wheeled vehicle maneuvers.”
“There are many people and very dense population centers all over Ukraine. And if war were to break out on a scale and scope that is possible, the civilian population will suffer greatly,” he said.
“They say tomorrow is war. This means panic,” Zelensky told reporters.
But Milley said he thinks Russia’s actions “feel different” from past escalations. “This is greater in scale and scope in the joining of forces than anything we’ve seen in recent memory, and I think you have to go a long way back in the Cold War to see something of this magnitude.” , he said. said.
‘It won’t be free’
Milley noted that the Ukrainian military’s combat capabilities have improved since 2014, “but they need extra help to defend themselves, especially against an invasion force of the size Russia is currently amassed.”
Still, Milley said that “if Russia chooses to invade Ukraine, it will not be free, in terms of casualties or other significant effects.”
Milley said the US has no intention of deploying “offensive troops” anywhere to “attack Russia”, adding that the current situation between Russia and Ukraine was “completely designed by Russia and President Putin”.
Austin said no decision had yet been made to send US troops into Eastern Europe with heightened alertness. He said the main purpose of the troops, which would mainly be deployed to support NATO’s rapid reaction force, was to “reassure our allies.”
“This is about our allies trusting us. So that’s really what we’re targeting,” Austin said. “And we, you know, Mr. Putin, will reveal what he thinks at some point. But again, I’m not sure he’s made the final decisions about what he’s going to do.”
Russia insists it has no intention of attacking Ukraine. In an interview with Russian journalists on Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said: “If it is up to the Russian Federation, there will be no war. We do not want war.”
While the Biden administration “welcomed” that message, a senior government official said, it needed to be backed up with action.
“We need to see Russia pull some of the troops they have deployed away from the Ukrainian border and take other de-escalating steps,” the government official said during a phone call on Friday.
UN Security Council to meet in Ukraine on Monday
The United States has requested a UN Security Council meeting on Monday on Ukraine, which it sees as an opportunity for Russia “to explain its extraordinary military buildup on Ukraine’s borders and its other threats and destabilizing acts.” the senior government official said Friday.
“While I think there will be some diversion and maybe some misinformation — we know that script — but there’s also a clear opportunity for Russia to tell the Security Council if they see a path to diplomacy or are interested in pursuing diplomacy.” A conflict.” said the official. “And I also think this will be an opportunity – and very important – for Russia to hear the position that other councilors are taking on these fundamental principles of the international order.”
“We hope and expect that our colleagues on the council will express their desire to follow a path of diplomacy rather than the path of war,” the official said.
The official said the US believed that “it would be a neglect of the Security Council’s duties to take a wait and see approach”, saying that US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield would “disclose the facts of will present the case and articulate clearly what is going on.” commitment to European and global peace and security.”
No statement or action by the Board is expected from the meeting.
A second official said the US mission to the UN is actively involved with others in New York, including Ukraine, other European countries, including Germany, China and Russia.
“We have had a very active dialogue with China, of course on a range of issues, but above all on this situation, Russia and Ukraine,” they said. “We have had an active diplomatic conversation with the Chinese mission in New York about this meeting and the issue when it comes to the Security Council.”
This story and headline were updated Friday with additional details.
DailyExpertNews’s Michael Conte, Richard Roth and Matthew Chance contributed to this report.