Dep. Sec. of State: 'Every Indication' Russia Will Invade Ukraine by Mid-February Ukrainian servicemen take part in joint military exercises with the U.S. and other NATO countries in September 2021. (Yuriy Dyachyshyn/AFP)
By Luca Cacciatore | Wednesday, 26 January 2022 04:06 PM
The U.S. State Department sees "every indication" Russia will use military force in Ukraine by the middle of February, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said Wednesday while speaking at the Yalta European Strategy Forum, according to Fox News.
"I have no idea whether he's made the ultimate decision, but we certainly see every indication that he is going to use military force sometime perhaps (between) now and the middle of February," Sherman said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Sherman added that the Beijing Winter Olympics might impact the timing of a scheduled Russian offensive.
"We all are aware that the Beijing Olympics begin on Feb. 4, the opening ceremony, and President Putin expects to be there," Sherman continued. "I think that probably [Chinese] President Xi Jinping would not be ecstatic if Putin chose that moment to invade Ukraine, so that may affect his timing and his thinking."
The deputy senior state official stressed that while the U.S. is hedging on a diplomatic solution to the conflict, it is also "preparing for the worst."
In contrast to President Joe Biden's comments on Jan. 19 indicating that a "minor incursion" may not elicit a U.S. response, Sherman assured that "even one Russian troop further invading Ukraine is a very serious matter."
Russia has consistently denied it has any plans to invade the country. However, Russia seized the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 following a political revolution that ousted pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych the same year, according to BBC.
The Kremlin has also aided pro-Russian separatists in the Donbas region of Ukraine.
As of Wednesday, an estimated 100,000 Russian troops surround Ukraine's border, per BBC.