U.S. officials estimate more than 130,000 Russian troops are now staged near Ukraine’s borders, ABC News reports.
An official shared the latest estimate while speaking on condition of anonymity, ABC News reports.
The White House confirmed President Joe Biden spoke for about 50 minutes with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and reaffirmed promises that western allies would hand down tough economic sanctions against Moscow and a NATO buildup in the event of “any further Russian aggression” targeted at the neighboring country.
The Biden administration also promised to continue pursuing both deterrence and diplomacy in the event of a crisis at Ukraine.
President Zelenskyy urged calm on Sunday even amid the intensified warnings of a potential Russian invasion over the past few days, repeating statements to downplay the United States’ warnings regarding Moscow surrounding neighboring Ukraine on three sides.
The Kremlin insists the presence is part of military exercises, though the significant growth over the weekend led to Zelenskyy questioning the increasingly strong statements from U.S. officials during the past few days regarding a possible Russian military invasion.
On Saturday (February 12), Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered the 160 members of the Florida National Guard assigned to the 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team previously deployed to Ukraine in November 2021 to leave the country and reposition elsewhere in Europe, CNBC reported.