US military leaders warn Putin now has ‘capability’ to invade Ukraine

For weeks, many observers have warned that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin is preparing to strike against neighboring Ukraine.

This week, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin admitted that Putin “now has the capability” to move.

“They’re not fooling us”

According to the Associated Press, comments from Sec. Austin came during a Friday press conference at the Pentagon alongside Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.

“While we don’t believe that President Putin has made a final decision to use these forces against Ukraine, he clearly now has the capability,” Austin said of the build-up of Russian forces along Ukraine’s border.

“We remain focused on Russian disinformation, including the potential creation of pretext for further invasion or strikes on Donbas,” Austin continued.

“This is straight out of the Russian playbook. They’re not fooling us,” the defense secretary declared before attempting to dissuade Russia from orchestrating a “false-flag operation” as a pretext for military action, according to the AP.

For his part, Milley warned that Russia can expect serious opposition should move to invade, noting that Ukraine has improved its defense capabilities since Moscow annexed the Crimean Peninsula eight years ago.

“If Russia chooses to invade Ukraine, it will not be cost-free, in terms of casualties and other significant effects,” the Army general insisted, according to the AP.

“Moving U.S. troops”

Fox News reported back in 2014 that Russian troops had seized Crimea after widespread protests forced the ouster of former pro-Kremlin Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

The Kremlin also intervened at the time to support pro-Russian separatist forces that had launched an insurrection in Ukraine’s eastern region of Donbas.

Speaking Friday, Austin and Milley explained that although no additional American forces have been deployed, some 8,500 troops have been placed on high alert for deployment in case their support is needed in surrounding allied countries.

According to the AP, President Joe Biden also promised on Friday that he will “be moving U.S. troops to eastern Europe and the NATO countries in the near term. Not a lot.” The president had stated earlier in the week that he may start on those movements shortly, “just because it takes time.”

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