WaPo: Russia Is Building Up Capacity That Would Allow It a Multi-Front Invasion With 175,000 Troops

100 of Russia's 168 "battalion tactical groups" would be involved

Editor’s note: Not completely sure what to think of this one, but I don’t want to be a gatekeeper. Let’s look at reporting from all corners and see how far we can figure it out together — or else everyone can make up their own mind.

As tensions mount between Washington and Moscow over a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine, U.S. intelligence has found the Kremlin is planning a multi-front offensive as soon as early next year involving up to 175,000 troops, according to U.S. officials and an intelligence document obtained by The Washington Post.

The Kremlin has been moving troops toward the border with Ukraine while demanding Washington guarantee that Ukraine will not join NATO and that the alliance will refrain from certain military activities in and around Ukrainian territory. The crisis has provoked fears of a renewed war on European soil and comes ahead of a planned virtual meeting next week between President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“The Russian plans call for a military offensive against Ukraine as soon as early 2022 with a scale of forces twice what we saw this past spring during Russia’s snap exercise near Ukraine’s borders,” said an administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information. “The plans involve extensive movement of 100 battalion tactical groups with an estimated 175,000 personnel, along with armor, artillery and equipment.”

The unclassified U.S. intelligence document obtained by The Post, which includes satellite photos, shows Russian forces massing in four locations. Currently, 50 battlefield tactical groups are deployed, along with “newly arrived” tanks and artillery, according to the document.

While Ukrainian assessments have said Russia has approximately 94,000 troops near the border, the U.S. map puts the number at 70,000 — but it predicts a buildup to as many as 175,000 and describes extensive movement of battalion tactical groups to and from the border “to obfuscate intentions and to create uncertainty.” [Maskirovka alive and well at the tactical level, but a public and slow-boil buildup over many months violates every tenant of maskirovka in the strategic sense.]

The U.S. analysis of Russia’s plans is based in part on satellite images that “show newly arrived units at various locations along the Ukrainian border over the last month,” the official said.

Details of the U.S. intelligence provide a picture that Secretary of State Antony Blinken began to outline this week on a trip to Europe, where he described “evidence that Russia has made plans for significant aggressive moves against Ukraine” and warned there would be severe consequences, including high-impact economic measures, if Russia invaded.

Biden said he is preparing measures to raise the cost of any new invasion for Putin, who has dismissed the U.S. warnings as rumors and said Russia is not threatening anyone.

“What I am doing is putting together what I believe to be, will be the most comprehensive and meaningful set of initiatives to make it very, very difficult for Mr. Putin to go ahead and do what people are worried he may do,” Biden said Friday.

The Russian military moves come as Moscow has raised eyebrows in Washington with a sudden mobilization of reservists this year and a dramatic escalation of its rhetoric regarding Ukraine.

Russian officials have defended the reserve mobilization as a necessary measure to help modernize the Russian armed forces. But the administration official raised concerns about the “sudden and rapid program to establish a ready reserve of contract reservists,” which the official said is expected to add an additional 100,000 troops to the approximately 70,000 deployed now. [Surely the 100,000 wouldn’t come from a newly-established force of reservists but from another part of the 1-million military.]

The intelligence about a potential surge in forces bolsters a warning earlier this week from Blinken that Putin could quickly order an invasion of Ukraine and helps explain why Biden administration officials have been sounding alarms about the threat of imminent invasion for weeks.

“We don’t know whether President Putin has made the decision to invade. We do know that he is putting in place the capacity to do so on short order should he so decide,” Blinken told reporters in Europe a day before meeting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. “We must prepare for all contingencies.”

Lavrov, in public comments this week, echoed Putin’s warnings about U.S. military equipment and activity encroaching on Russia’s borders and said, “The nightmare scenario of military confrontation is returning.”

The intelligence document also suggests that Russian forces may be leaving equipment behind at training facilities to allow an attack on Ukraine to commence quickly.

“Equipment may be left behind at different training ranges to enable a rapid, final buildup,” the document adds.

Separately, a Ukrainian government official said that Russian military exercises conducted earlier this year near Ukraine’s borders helped Russian forces essentially rehearse an invasion.

“The Russian troops worked out the issues of creating strike groups near the borders of our state, mobilization measures, logistical support of groups, [and] transfer of significant military contingents, including by air,” from Russia to the border with Ukraine, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive analysis.

While laying the groundwork for an invasion, the Russian government has also been waging a propaganda campaign, the U.S. administration official said.

“Additionally, in the past month, our information indicates Russian influence proxies and media outlets have started to increase content denigrating Ukraine and NATO, in part to pin the blame for a potential Russian military escalation on Ukraine,” the official said.

“Recent information also indicates that Russian officials proposed adjusting Russia’s information operations against Ukraine to emphasize the narrative that Ukrainian leaders had been installed by the West, harbored a hatred for the ‘Russian world,’ and were acting against the interests of the Ukrainian people.”

In his comments in Latvia, Blinken cautioned the Ukrainians not to give Russia a pretext for military action.

“We’re also urging Ukraine to continue to exercise restraint because, again, the Russian playbook is to claim provocation for something that they were planning to do all along,” he said. [Sounds like the Russian moves are already bearing some limited fruit. DC exerting influence on Kiev to try to restrain it is a definite first.]

Putin has demanded the United States and its allies provide signed assurances excluding any expansion of NATO to include Ukraine and Georgia and limiting military activity near Russia’s borders, most notably in and around Ukraine.

The demands for a new European security pact come after Putin has suggested for months that U.S. and allied military activities in Ukraine and near Russia’s borders are crossing a red line for the Kremlin.

Russia needs “precise legal, judicial guarantees because our Western colleagues have failed to deliver on verbal commitments they made,” Putin said in a speech at the Kremlin this week, suggesting the start of “substantive talks on this topic.”

Putin has long railed against NATO expansion into former Warsaw Pact states as a disrespectful encroachment on Moscow. He said a concrete agreement must “rule out any further eastward expansion of NATO and the deployment of weapons systems posing a threat to us in close proximity to Russia’s territory.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki rejected out of hand the idea that Washington would provide a guarantee that Ukraine will not enter NATO.

“NATO member countries decide who is a member of NATO, not Russia,” Psaki told reporters during a White House briefing Friday. “That is how the process has always worked and how it will proceed. I think it’s important to remember where the provocative action is coming from. It’s not the United States. It’s not Ukraine.”

U.S. and Ukrainian officials and military analysts believe Russia would mount a far larger-scale invasion now than it did in 2014, when the country annexed Crimea and fueled a separatist uprising in Ukraine’s east. The plan, the officials and analysts believe, could be to force Ukrainian troops to fight on multiple fronts, seeking not so much territory but rather a capitulation by Kyiv and its Western backers that results in the security guarantees Putin wants. Military analysts have compared that strategy to Moscow’s 2008 invasion of Georgia.

In comments this week, Putin said drills with U.S. nuclear-capable strategic bombers flying over the Black Sea posed a threat to Moscow, along with U.S. missile defense systems in Poland and Romania. He also expressed concern about NATO deploying missiles on Ukrainian territory that could have a flight time of seven to 10 minutes to Moscow — though no such plans have been announced.

Source: The Washington Post


Around 170 battalion tactical groups are operational in the Russian Army today, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said on Tuesday.

“Today we actually have constant alert troops. Today we have no forces that we need to gather and find. All the troops are on constant alert. We have formations called battalion tactical groups. These are the forces that are ready for deployment in an hour after an alert signal. We have 168 such groups today and this is a very high figure,” the defense chief said at the Territory of Senses educational youth forum.

A battalion tactical group is a temporary operationally flexible formation set up on the basis of a battalion and attached artillery, air defense, engineering and logistics support units for combat operations as part of motor rifle and tank brigades. Aviation groups, special operations forces and other units can also be attached to a battalion tactical group to accomplish assigned missions.

50 battalion tactical groups would thus be 30 percent of the total. 70,000 troops would represent 25 percent of the active-duty manpower of the Ground Forces, but many would have been from the paratroop, and air and air defense armies.

  1. Cap960 says

    Russians moving troops around Russia. The horror, must keep an eye on them. US moving troops around the world bombing the ME. All good, nothing to see!
    Hypocrites comes to mind.

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  2. GMC says

    Happiness, would be watching the American Public, forming 175,000+ well armed Americans, and marching to New York and then onto Washington.! And that would be My Headline for a Moscow Newspaper. Tou che’

  3. edwardi says

    I strongly ‘suspect’ that Russia may pull off another huge false flag like when they shot down that passenger jet in 2014, was it, and of course, try to pin it again on the proud UkroNazi’s, minding their own business in the W. half of Ukraine, as that pretext Blinken keeps referring to. Of course NATO as always remains undaunted and fully prepared to improve this time on the many strategies Adolph employed to whip the Russian Bear, and US Generals, great students of history, may even throw in a few twists employed by Napoleon, which will be completely unexpected by the non historical Russians. Now of course the fully vaccinated united states will similarly 100% support the heroic war efforts, ready to whip both China in the Pacific and Russia far across the Atlantic, distance is no object when ‘principles’ are at stake. Now the US has suddenly lost it’s entire nuclear submarine fleet, due to a few cost cutting measures fully engineered to improve profits for a few well placed entrepreneurs, though that inferior steel is just a clever ploy by the US, as you never really know where an inferior plated submarine may be lurking under the surface. Joe will be laying down the law to Putin in Russia, just like he did to Corn Pops in that great historic episode from his youth. Joe is a legend. Give him a simple bicycle chain and he will whip the world. USA rocks !

  4. Ragheadthefiendlyterrorist says

    “US intelligence has found that….”


  5. Helga Weber says

    According to german reports, the Ukraine has 125.000 troops stationed at the border to the autonomous Donbas region.

  6. Raptar Driver says

    This Russian government will do nothing to exacerbate the situation with their “Partners” .
    Putin has proven that only when he is held down and forced does he take action, like with Crimea.
    He absolutely had to do that, otherwise his government would have been over thrown quickly.

  7. XSFRGR says

    Other than the usual lies about a 2014 invasion there is little new in this article other than Russia, for some reason, had decided it’s time. The question in time for what??

    Winter, when the roads, and the ground a frozen, and the skies are cloudy is the perfect time. Just prior to the U$ midterm elections is the perfect time. Prior to the U$ being able to develop new weapons systems is the time. During America$ Covid hysteria is the time. With the U$ military in flux over equity, inclusiveness, and diversity is the time. Now that Russia has it’s own banking system, and the U$ is starving for Russian oil makes it the time. It’s also time for China to make a move on Taiwan. The strategic stars have aligned, and it’s time for Russia/China to resolve the Taiwan/Ukraine situation, permanently.

    If Putin blinks he will be justifiably vilified by his own people. If Biden or his handlers blink the Empire will be dead/defeated/finished. In the craft this is known as decisive combat. In decisive combat there can be no retreat; there will be a winner, and a loser. This combat need not be bloody, but someone absolutely must back down to prevent armed conflict, and that option exists for neither of the adversaries with one possible exception; the U$ has decided to devour its own empire. If the Empire is defeated without open war Sun Tzu, Putin, and Xi will have been proven right.

    We live in interesting times.

  8. Tony says

    Russia must sort this out now, before its too late, US and nato allies are building training camps, delivering weapon systems slowly but surely they are increasing their presence in Ukraine, Ukraine doesn’t need to be a member of Nato, they still building infrastructure and they will eventually install offensive missile systems under the guise of defensive systems, it’s a slow but graduall surrounding of Russia, to enable a devastating 1st strike if the big war comes, US have done this for yrs all over the world.
    If Russia put troops and weapon systems in Mexico or Cuba do you think that US would allow that? Absolutely not, so why should Russia, to protect its people and existence Russia must invade, take over all the coastal area and Russian speaking areas, kick out all foreign forces, gradually reabsorbe Ukraine into Russia and give back lands to hungarian and polish communities.
    Stop messing about and act now before it’s too late. They should also demand that offensive US weapons systems in Poland and Latvia be removed voluntarily or be targeted. Get tough now or forever regret.

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