Intelligence suggesting Vladimir Putin is preparing to invade Ukrainian is not a bluff, according to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who said Sunday action can be taken “very quickly” even moving tanks into the capital city of Kyiv.
“You could see that – I mean, that’s highly likely you could see that: You could see a significant amount of combat power move very quickly now to take Kyiv,” Austin told ABC News’ “This Week.”
“So in terms of the types of things that could happen, one only need to look at what’s on the other side of the Ukrainian border. We see a lot of tanks and armored vehicles there. We see a lot of artillery. We see rocket forces.”
Austin added to host Martha Raddatz this is “very, very dangerous” and would be a mass casualty event for civilians and not only military.
“If he employs that kind of combat power, it will certainly create enormous casualties within the civilian population and so this could create a tragedy, quite frankly, in terms of refugee flow and displaced people. So this is potentially very, very dangerous.”
Austin added he has “high confidence” in the intelligence before the Biden administration, which has merely threatened sanctions against Putin and Russia, instead of enacting them.
Still, Putin’s amassing “not only combat power, but also logistical support, medical support, combat aviation,” are “deliberate” and not merely a “bluff,” Austin concluded.
“He’s been very deliberate in terms of assembling the right kind of combat and combat support capabilities, in the border region, and so he has a number of options available to him there – and he could attack in short order,” Austin told Raddatz.
“I don’t believe it’s a bluff. I think he’s assembled the right kinds of things that you would need to conduct a successful invasion.”
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