Former NATO Boss Warns of 'Completely Concrete' Plans for 'Russian Invasion' of Ukraine
While elaborating on an alleged three-phase plan culminating with a march toward the Ukrainian capital, Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he was unsure whether Russia would realise it. By contrast, Russia has rejected all Western accusations of looming aggression, dismissing such rhetoric as a ploy to place more NATO gear near its borders.
Former Prime Minister of Denmark and ex-Secretary General of NATO Anders Fogh Rasmussen, has warned of a planned Russian "invasion" of Ukraine amid rising tensions.
The former NATO boss, who led the alliance from 2009 to 2014, assessed the US intelligence, according to which a Russian "invasion" could take place as early as the beginning of 2022 and include up to 175,000 soldiers, as "reliable".
According to Fogh Rasmussen, the first phase will be to close Ukraine's access to the Black Sea to seal off the flow of new supplies. The next phase will be to bomb Ukrainian military forces to bits before launching the third phase, which is to move towards the capital Kiev.
"So there are completely concrete plans, but we do not know if Putin will realise them", Anders Fogh Rasmussen told Denmark's TV2.
When the Crimean Peninsula reunified with Russia following a referendum, an event Fogh Rasmussen insistently refers to as "annexation", it was a complete surprise for NATO, he said. An invasion next year will be less surprising, Fogh Rasmussen ventured. However, he is not convinced that Russia will follow through. Earlier, senior US administration officials said that the Biden administration believes Russia is ready to attack Ukraine from three sides.
"Now the Americans and the EU fully agree that there will be very strong sanctions against Russia if Putin enters Ukraine. So the price could be too high for Putin, both internally and externally", Fogh Rasmussen mused.
Per Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Russia's long-term goal is to prevent Ukraine from ever becoming a member of NATO and the EU, so that both blocs are apprehensive about accepting a conflict-ridden member.
Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin himself has made it perfectly clear that Ukrainian membership in NATO and an expansion of the alliance further to the east is a "red line" that Russia cannot accept. He repeated this most recently at a press conference last week.
"In this situation, we'll take appropriate military and technical measures. Once again, it is not us who is threatening anyone", Putin said on that occasion.
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Russia has repeatedly rejected Western accusations of mounting aggression and speculations of a possible "invasion", stating that it does not threaten anyone and does not intend to attack anyone, venturing that the rhetoric about a "Russian threat" is being used as a pretext to deploy more NATO military gear near Russia's borders.
While Kiev and the West have expressed concern over Russia's troop movements near the borders of Ukraine, the Russian president's press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, said that Moscow is moving troops within its own territory and at its own discretion.
Conversely, Russia claims that Ukraine has gathered more than 120,000 troops near the conflict zone in Donbass, while accusing the US and the West of helping to destabilise the situation.
Russia's Foreign Ministry previously called the West's statements about "Russian aggression" and the opportunity to help Kiev defend itself both ridiculous and dangerous.