US General: Russian Invasion in Ukraine in Next Few Weeks Not Very Likely
There is a "low to medium" risk that Russia will invade Ukraine over the next few weeks, the top U.S. general in Europe said on Thursday, in the first such military assessment amid mounting concern about Russian troop movements toward Ukraine's borders.
Air Force General Tod Wolters declined to explain the intelligence driving his assessment, which does not suggest that the U.S. military expects a Russian invasion at this point, but he is not ruling one out or playing down the risk.
But, in testimony before a House of Representatives committee he later suggested his view about the risks in the coming weeks and months was at least partly based on the disposition of Russian forces.
The Pentagon has declined to detail its assessment on the size and composition of those troops, referring reporters to Moscow. However, the White House disclosed last week that Russia had more troops on Ukraine's eastern border than at any time since 2014, when it annexed Crimea and backed separatist territory seizures.
If the current trajectory stayed the same, however, Wolters estimated the risk of an invasion could decrease.
Tensions over a buildup of Russian troops on Ukraine's eastern border have pushed up the cost of raising domestic debt and prompted the government to accelerate efforts to secure more International Monetary Fund loans, an adviser to Ukraine's president told Reuters on Thursday.
Since January, 30 Ukrainian service members were killed in the east regions, close to Russia.
The United States sought to impose costs on Russia on Thursday by imposing a broad array of sanctions, including curbs to its sovereign debt market, to punish it for interfering in last year's U.S. presidential election, cyber-hacking, bullying Ukraine and other alleged "malign" actions.
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