US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director William Burns has said that American intelligence agencies have yet to conclude decisively that Russia will invade Ukraine, adding that they do not know what Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided.
“I would never underestimate President Putin’s risk appetite on Ukraine,” Burns said at The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit on Monday.
“We don’t know that Putin has made up his mind to use force,” he added. “But what we do know is that he’s putting the Russian military, Russian security services in a place where they could act in a very sweeping way.”
US and NATO military officials have claimed that Russia could be contemplating such an invasion of Ukraine, citing, what they call, "unusual" Russian troop movements near the border with Ukraine.
Russia has repeatedly said it was free to move its troops around within its own borders but stated that its military buildup is not provocative. Russia said it is taking defensive measures against Ukraine’s closer alliance with the West and aspirations to join NATO.
US President Joe Biden will talk with President Putin today. According to reports, Biden will make clear there "will be genuine and meaningful and enduring costs to choosing to go forward should (Russia) choose to go forward with a military escalation.”
Burns told the Journal that the meeting would be an opportunity “to reinforce, re-emphasize the costs of the use of force.”
According to a US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the United States and its European allies are prepared to take "substantial economic countermeasures... that would impose significant and severe economic harm on the Russian economy" if Russia attacks Ukraine.
A report by the Washington Post on Friday cited US officials and an intelligence document claiming Russia was planning a multi-front offensive involving up to 175,000 troops as soon as next year.
Russia has dismissed the allegations by the US media that it is planning a large-scale attack on Ukraine, accusing Washington of seeking to aggravate the situation by blaming Moscow at a time of tensions between the two neighbors.
Moscow also says Washington is involved in aggressive moves in the Black Sea, where Ukraine and the United States have held military drills recently.
On Friday, Biden slammed Russia’s actions at the Ukraine border, saying Washington will “make it very, very difficult” for Putin to attack.
Relations between Ukraine and Russia have gone through declension since 2014, when the then Ukrainian territory of Crimea voted in a referendum to rejoin the Russian Federation. Kiev refused to recognize the referendum results, and later imposed sanctions on Moscow.
Ukraine, along with its Western allies, also claims Russia has a hand in the ongoing conflict that erupted in the Donbass region between Ukrainian government forces and ethnic Russians in 2014. Moscow denies the allegation.