Russia has almost completed preparations for a large-scale invasion of Ukraine which could lead to 50,000 civilian casualties, the Washington Post report.
The paper warns that not only could this lead to thousands of deaths and injuries, but it could topple the Ukrainian government in Kyiv. It would also risk triggering a humanitarian refugee crisis, says Amnesty International.
According to US military intelligence, Russia has gathered 70% of the firepower it needs for a full-scale invasion. A series of indicators suggest Putin intends an attack in the coming weeks. However, the size and scale are unclear, said The Washington Post.
US officials believe the Kremlin may be positioning them to launch an assault on Kyiv and fear any invasion could be the largest military offensive in Europe since World War II, per The Post.
However, they also stressed that a diplomatic solution appears to remain possible.
Shedding light on what this military build-up looks like, the Washington Post reported that 83 Russian battalion tactical groups, with about 750 troops each, were arranged for possible combat.
Satellite photos show what the 130,000 Russian troops have surrounded Ukraine.
Russia has troops in Belarus, western Russia, and Crimea.
The USA has sent troops to Poland, which borders Ukraine and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. On Wednesday, the Pentagon said that 1,700 soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, are earmarked to be stationed in Poland, but only temporarily.
Russia has denied plans to attack.
“Our worry would be that you don’t park battle groups … on the border of another country twice and do nothing,” one European official told the Washington Post.
“I think that’s the real fear that I have. [Putin’s] now put them all out there. If he does nothing again … what does that say to the wider international community about the might of Russia?” They added.