The Russian invasion of Ukraine is the largest conventional military attack since WWII, a top US defense official said Thursday.
“We haven’t seen a conventional move like this, nation-state to nation-state, since WWII,” the official told reporters Thursday. It might be brutal, costly, and impactful on European security for a long time if it unfolds as expected.
The US had been warning for weeks that Russian President Vladimir Putin would unleash a massive strike on Ukraine. The US and its European partners will announce penalties on Russia on Thursday, despite US President Joe Biden’s assurances that US forces deployed to NATO countries in eastern Europe will not be drawn into the conflict in Ukraine.
Russia’s initial attack had “three main axes of assault,” the person said. It contained over 100 Russian-launched missiles, including short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, SAMs, and Black Sea-based missiles.
The initial attack included 75 fixed-wing heavy and medium aircraft, and Russia launched “some ground incursions” into Ukraine from Belarus, the official claimed. Russian forces were stationed in Belarus for military exercises, Moscow said.
This includes barracks, ammo stores, and over a dozen Ukrainian airfields.
“As expected, we have no idea of the total damage. In terms of civilian and/or military casualties, “he added.
Officials warned Thursday that the US will keep publicizing Putin’s plans as they come to light, even though the policy has proven ineffective in preventing a Ukrainian attack.
Officials said they plan to keep providing intelligence, not to discourage Putin (which hasn’t worked), but to contradict Russian claims about events on the ground. This might entail refuting Russian claims of crimes or exposing Putin’s plans in advance.
More US military forces will arrive in Eastern Europe later Thursday, the official added. Officials said two F-35s each will arrive in Estonia, Lithuania, and Romania. A group of attack helicopters “are on their way,” the person stated, despite “some weather concerns.” “Those Apaches should arrive later today,” the official stated.
Deployment of US military assets to NATO partners in Eastern Europe:
According to a senior defense official, up to eight F-35 attack planes will be relocated from Germany to other Eastern European nations along NATO’s eastern flank, as well as 20 AH-64 helicopters from Germany to the Baltic region.
U.S. forces are not going into Ukraine, according to Biden and US officials.
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