Top US general in Europe says there’s a low-to-medium risk Russia invades Ukraine in the next few weeks

Russia
Units of Russian mountain air assault division hold exercise in Crimea in March 2021.

  • The top US general in Europe said there’s a “low to medium” risk Russia invades Ukraine soon.
  • Russia has amassed 80,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders.
  • Tensions between Russia and the West have reached historic heights.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Air Force General Tod Wolters, the top US general in Europe, on Thursday said there’s a “low to medium” risk that Russia invades Ukraine in the next few weeks, per Defense News.

Wolters, the head of US European Command and NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe, during a House Armed Services Committee said that NATO was ready to respond to Russian aggression if necessary.

“We deter, and, if deterrence fails, we’re prepared to respond to aggression with the full weight of the transatlantic alliance,” Wolters said, also stating that the likelihood of a Russian invasion will “start to wane” based on “the trend that I see right now.” The general did not provide further details or intelligence behind this assessment.

Roughly 80,000 Russian troops have amassed in Crimea and along the eastern border of Ukraine, which has already been fighting a war against Kremlin-backed separatists in the Donbass region for over half a decade, raising alarm bells across Europe and in Washington.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday called on Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine’s border.

“NATO stands with Ukraine,” he said. “Russia must end this military buildup in and around Ukraine, stop its provocations and de-escalate immediately.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday warned Russia of “consequences” if it “acts recklessly or aggressively.”

Blinken, who traveled to Brussels this week for talks with Ukraine’s foreign minister and NATO leaders, on Tuesday said that the US “stands firmly behind the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

“And that’s particularly important at a time when we’re seeing, unfortunately, Russia take very provocative action when it comes to Ukraine,” Blinken added.

President Joe Biden earlier this week urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to deescalate tensions, and proposed holding a summit in a third country in the coming months.

“The President voiced our concerns over the sudden Russian military build-up in occupied Crimea and on Ukraine’s borders, and called on Russia to de-escalate tensions,” the White House said in a statement.

US-Russia relations have hit a historically low point in recent years, particularly since Putin’s unilateral annexation of Crimea in 2014, and the contentious dynamic has persisted with Biden at the helm.

Biden in March referred to Putin as a “killer,” prompting outcry from the Kremlin.

Russia’s interference in US elections has also driven a wedge between Washington and Moscow.

The Biden administration on Thursday issued new sanctions against over 30 Russian entities over Moscow’s election interference as well as Russia’s role in the SolarWinds cyberattack. Additionally, the US expelled 10 Russian diplomats.

Russia has denied any role in the hack and rejected allegations of election interference.

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