United States intelligence officials believe it is “more likely than previously thought” that Russian forces are planning an invasion of eastern Ukraine, CNN reports, citing a new classified intelligence assessment.
Two unnamed administration officials described the assessment to CNN, saying there have been a number of troublesome signs from Russia in the last three to four days.
“This has shifted our thinking that the likelihood of a further Russian incursion is more probable than it was previously thought to be,” one of the officials reportedly said.
It is believed that there are more than 30,000 Russian forces on the border with Ukraine, not including additional forces placed on alert and ready to act.
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - MARCH 24: Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a state award ceremony honoring participants of the Olympic and Paralympics Games in Sochi in the Kremlin, March 24, 2014 in Moscow, Russia. Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images
More from the report:
The assessment makes several new points including:
Troops on Russia’s border with eastern Ukraine – which exceed 30,000 - are “significantly more” than what is needed for the “exercises” Russia says it has been conducting, and there is no sign the forces are making any move to return to their home bases.
The troops on the border with Ukraine include large numbers of “motorized” units that can quickly move. Additional special forces, airborne troops, air transport and other units that would be needed appear to be at a higher state of mobilization in other locations in Russia.
There is additional intelligence that even more Russian forces are “reinforcing” the border region, according to both officials. All of the troops are positioned for potential military action.
Congress has reportedly already been briefed on the classified assessment — and it has many of them concerned.
Members of the House Armed Services Committee sent a classified letter to the White House late Wednesday night regarding the troubling news. Committee members expressed “urgency and alarm, based on new information in the committee’s possession,” according to an unclassified version obtained by CNN.
Lawmakers also said there was “deep apprehension that Moscow may invade eastern and southern Ukraine, pressing west to Transdniestria and also seek land grabs in the Baltics.”
Read CNN’s full report here.