Russian President Vladimir Putin has placed 80% of troops in position to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, a US defense official said on Wednesday.
“He is as prepared as possible,” the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.
The remarks heightened sense of imminent imminence of a possible Russian military attack, challenging any assumptions that Putin hoped to deter after Washington this week recognized the independence of two rebel-held regions backed by Moscow.
“They have advanced in their preparation to a point where they are literally ready to act, now, if ordered,” the official said, without providing evidence to support the claim.
The United States estimates that more than 150,000 Russian troops have gathered around Ukraine. A senior US official said Russian troops had captured a ready base less than five kilometers from the Ukrainian border.
Russian forces are largely ground-based troops, consisting of more than 120 battalions of tactical groups. But Putin has also deployed more than two dozen warships to the Black Sea, including landing ships with marines on board, and significant artillery and missile forces, according to the official.
The source said that so far, the Russian military has assembled nearly 100% of the forces the United States predicted it would deploy for a full-scale attack.