Russian troops combat ready as Ukraine invasion appears imminent

President Joe Biden (shown Tuesday) said Wednesday, the United States will join Germany in sanctioning the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which runs from Russia to Europe. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI

Feb. 23 (UPI) — Russian troops amassed around the border with Ukraine now are mostly combat ready, and a full-scale attack looks to be inevitable, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday.

“They’re ready to go now if they get the order to go,” Kirby said during a news conference.

Meanwhile, U.S. intelligence agencies have warned the Ukrainian government that a Russian invasion appears imminent, according to CNN.

Russia now has all the air, land and sea forces required for a major military campaign, in place and ready to launch an attack, a senior source in the Defense Department told USA Today. That includes cruise and ballistic missiles.

More than 150,000 Russian troops, as well as separatist forces from eastern parts of Ukraine, are in the region, Kirby said, adding that 80% to be in position and combat ready.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Wednesday that according to intelligence he’s seen, “Russia is at peak readiness to now complete a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and that is likely to occur within the next 24 hours,” Sky News reported.

Australia is a member of the Five Eyes, an intelligence alliance made up of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Earlier in the week, Russian President Vladimir Putin publicly declared two pro-Russian, separatist-held regions of eastern Ukraine to be independent.

Putin said Russian troops will be sent to the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic for peacekeeping reasons. The two are collectively known as the Donbas territories.

“According to the information at my disposal, Putin is moving additional forces and tanks into the occupied Donbas territories,” Latvian Prime Minister Arturs Krišjānis Kariņš told CNN Wednesday.

Latvia is a NATO member.

A steady build-up of Russia’s naval presence in the Black Sea continues, and now includes more than 20 warships, several of which are amphibious landing craft.

This comes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy declared a state of emergency Wednesday, and called up military reservists.

In response, President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that the United States would impose sanctions on the Nord Stream 2, an $11 million, 750-mile gas pipeline completed last summer.

The pipeline can carry gas from Russia through the Baltic Sea to Germany, and Europe, but has not yet been certified by Germany.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz halted the certification procedure Tuesday, as part of sanctions against Russia.

Biden said eariier in the day that “I have directed my administration to impose sanctions on Nord Stream 2 AG and its corporate officers. These steps are another piece of our initial tranche of sanctions in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

“As I have made clear, we will not hesitate to take further steps if Russia continues to escalate.”

He added: “Through his actions, President Putin has provided the world with an overwhelming incentive to move away from Russian gas and to other forms of energy. I want to thank Chancellor Scholz for his close partnership and continued dedication to holding Russia accountable for its actions.”


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