March 26th, 2014
07:02 PM ET

U.S. intel assessment: greater likelihood Russia will enter eastern Ukraine

By Barbara Starr

A new classified intelligence assessment concludes it is more likely than previously thought that Russian forces will enter eastern Ukraine, CNN has learned.

Two administration officials described the assessment but declined to be identified due to the sensitive nature of the information.

The officials emphasized that nothing is certain, but there have been several worrying signs in the past 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 official said.

The buildup is seen to be reminiscent of Moscow’s military moves before it went into Chechnya and Georgia in both numbers of units and their capabilities.

U.S. military and intelligence officials have briefed Congress on the assessment.

As a result, Republican members of the House Armed Services Committee late Wednesday sent a classified letter to the White House expressing concern about unfolding developments.

An unclassified version obtained by CNN said committee members feel “urgency and alarm, based on new information in the committee’s possession.”

The committee 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.”

Transdniestria is a separatist region of Moldova.

Committee members noted that Gen. Philip Breedlove, head of the U.S. European Command and NATO military chief, noted the Russians had sufficient forces to make moves into those areas.

American officials believe the more than 30,000 Russian forces on the border with Ukraine, combined with additional Russian forces placed on alert and mobilized to move, give Russian President Vladimir Putin the ability to rapidly move into Ukraine without the United States being able to predict it when it happens.

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.

Russian troops already on the border region include air defense artillery and wheeled vehicles.

The United States believes that Russia might decide to go into eastern Ukraine to establish a land bridge into Crimea.

The belief is that Russian forces would move toward three Ukrainian cities: Kharkiv, Luhansk and Donetsk in order to establish land access into Crimea. Russian forces are currently positioned in and around Rostov, Kursk, and Belgorod, according to U.S. intelligence information.

soundoff (546 Responses)
  1. HD Bilişim

    Do you even know what would happen if lies were spread by government? http://www.hdbilisimteknolojileri.com/

    November 4, 2014 at 1:15 pm | Reply
  2. catarget

    The Real Name of this War on Terror, Poverty, Injustice, Unrest, Drugs, Addiction and Crime is called CORRUPTION.
    Plain and simple.

    Global Think Tank ~ "Corruption: The Unrecognized Threat to International Security" – http://m.ceip.org/publications/?fa=55791

    We will not be able to turn the page on history until our good world leaders officially and publicly Declare the "WAR ON CORRUPTION".

    Otherwise we will remain 'stuck', with all of the above issues growing as a direct result from corruption.

    June 28, 2014 at 11:15 pm | Reply
  3. Jdsage Fgjkkut

    russian lease for crimia region port is now null in void

    April 2, 2014 at 2:58 pm | Reply
    • sez you

      Ain't gonna do it, Russia is already broke as it is the most corrupt nation on earth besides the US. If they go in most nations will pull out any and all financial interests there. Thats why Putin hasn't done it yet, he's testing the waters.

      April 3, 2014 at 2:45 pm | Reply
  4. Mkutef Jhrefhju

    Proof: Communism large and small

    April 2, 2014 at 12:32 pm | Reply
  5. Mkutef Jhrefhju

    THERE IS NO SciENTIFIC basis for not caring what people think

    April 2, 2014 at 12:30 pm | Reply
  6. Mkutef Jhrefhju

    sensorship is in full effect now.

    April 2, 2014 at 11:54 am | Reply
  7. Mkutef Jhrefhju

    Russia is not a real Country it is a would-be ethnicity one ethnicity is not the Parent of any other ethnicity. Fact: Putin and Hitler think alike Putin is a Gehetto Hittler Assad is a Gehetto Hitler GETTO HITLERS WORK TOGETHER TO KILL KILL KILL & TAKE TAKE TAKE. The was no ligitimate vote about anything in Ukraine including Crimea since PUTIN the WORLDS single richest CRIMINAL DICTATOR and MASS MURDERING CERIAL KILLER. FACTS ARE FACTS AND THAT IS THAT UNTIL ITS NOT.

    April 2, 2014 at 11:48 am | Reply
  8. Kkjgfe Frtuk

    "If you have an ethnic Russians in you country you might want to ethnically cleanse them now before Vald “the dismember of Ukraine.” decides you are not being nice enough to them for his testates and invades your country.
    After all if he can do it to Ukraine why not you?" WARNING HERE AND A THREAT

    March 31, 2014 at 12:22 am | Reply
  9. Dianne

    Russia has Snowden and he is %bs Russia with a lot of lies of info and this has embolden Putin to challenge Pres, Obama. Also, due to the praising of Putin and the negative remarks about our Pres. because of the HATE of him by Congress and the RACISM we generate toward OUR Pres. This has Putin feeling that we don"t respect our Pres., he won;t either. The ACTIONS of America is sending us into a WAR because Congress and ALL the HATER OF HIM (Pres. Obama), is putting us in HARMS way.

    March 30, 2014 at 10:24 pm | Reply
    • George patton

      Don't you think that Obama's idiotic foreign policies have anything to do with it, Dianne? He's still having people in both Afghanistan and Pakistan butchered with those ungodly drones and Apache helicopters while endeavoring to keep some 15 to 20,000 troops in Afghanistan for the next ten years or so! Today, we're the most hated nation in the world!!!

      March 31, 2014 at 11:07 am | Reply
    • glennrobert

      Don't be concerned about what Snowden got wrong, be concerned about what he got right. The only reason for secrecy in government is to cover political mistakes! We should bring him home and give him a medal. The NSA. should be disbanded as illegally intrusive. They seem to monitor every communication in the world. To monitor the phone call of the Prime Minister of Germany while she is talking is a serious offense.

      April 5, 2014 at 7:50 pm | Reply
      • Kjhdhr Niytjt

        Well put, glennrobert. Thank you. Nothing could be closer to the truth!

        April 6, 2014 at 12:36 am |
  10. murf

    If you have an ethnic Russians in you country you might want to ethnically cleanse them now before Vald "the dismember of Ukraine." decides you are not being nice enough to them for his testates and invades your country.

    After all if he can do it to Ukraine why not you?

    March 30, 2014 at 8:45 pm | Reply
  11. Kjhdhr Niytjt

    Let's all hope that the Russians don't enter Ukraine. I'm so sick and tired of all this phony outrage being spewed out by Obama and his right-wing henchmen over this and the gutless wonders who currently lead Europe parroting it over and over again. Enough is enough!!!!!!!!

    March 30, 2014 at 5:15 pm | Reply
  12. Kjhdhr Niytjt

    COMMUNISM IS REAL

    March 30, 2014 at 4:14 pm | Reply
  13. Kjhdhr Niytjt

    FREE GAS FOR EUROPE

    March 30, 2014 at 4:13 pm | Reply
  14. Kjhdhr Niytjt

    IF RUSSIA IS A REAL COUNTRY THEN THE US CAN ANNEX IT

    March 30, 2014 at 4:11 pm | Reply
  15. Kjhdhr Niytjt

    "Georgia attacked Russia". AGAIN RUSSIA IS NOT A REAL COUNTRY.

    March 30, 2014 at 4:10 pm | Reply
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    March 29, 2014 at 11:50 pm | Reply
  17. Mark Pugner

    Georgia attacked Russia. Don't try to rewrite history CNN. The No Agenda Show Podcast was one of the few news outlets who discussed this.

    March 29, 2014 at 1:02 pm | Reply
    • John Geheran

      Thank you, Mark. How true that rings! CNN is no more than another member of the right-wing news media which only parrots the Washington view on things! They simply don't want the rest of us to wise up.

      March 29, 2014 at 7:54 pm | Reply
  18. Jteuyr Ngfd

    FREE GAS FOR EUROPE...

    March 29, 2014 at 8:03 am | Reply
  19. Jteuyr Ngfd

    "Do you even know what would happen if lies were spread by government?" DEATH

    March 29, 2014 at 8:01 am | Reply
  20. Jteuyr Ngfd

    "Chechnya is part of Russia." NOTHING IS A PART OF RUSSIA BECAUSE RUSSIA IS AN IMAGINARY PLACE.

    March 29, 2014 at 7:39 am | Reply
    • Folke Bernadotte

      Ludicrous comment. Russia is as valid a country as any other. Crimea has been part of Russia for 250 years and should remain part of Russia.

      March 29, 2014 at 4:32 pm | Reply
      • John Geheran

        Well said, Folke. I agree.

        March 29, 2014 at 7:56 pm |
      • Folke Bernadotte

        Thank you.

        March 29, 2014 at 8:43 pm |
      • M. Andersen

        Fine, if Crimea belongs to Russia on the basis of the imperialist, expansionist efforts of Catherine and Peter, then perhaps Russia should give up its little outpost in Kalingrad, which is completely geographically separate from Russia and was Prussian, of German ethnicity and language, until the USSR overran it at the end of WWII. The selective memory of the Russian apologists on this board and everywhere is so obvious. Putin, please pay your toadies to at least not be so transparent.

        And if we're going to renegotiate all the borders settled at the end of WWII, all of Europe is going to be a disaster for another fifty years. And Russia better start talking about the many republics within its own borders–Bashkortostan, Chuvashia, etcetera–that are not majority Russian ethnicity/language–not even close! Hypocrites...

        April 1, 2014 at 12:08 pm |
      • Folke Bernadotte

        Your comment is as childish as the one to which I responded earlier. Nobody is "renegotiating borders". Crimea is Russian. Crimea WANTS to remain Russian. End of discussion. The US doesn't have a say in the matter.

        April 1, 2014 at 1:12 pm |
  21. Jteuyr Ngfd

    PROPAGANDA ALERT: 'I would say there is plenty anti Russian propaganda in west.'

    March 29, 2014 at 7:30 am | Reply
    • CB

      Nope.

      Communist russians have proven they have mastered lies and deception.

      Even with the fall of the iron curtain, russia is stuck in paranoid, unfree state of mind.

      West is doing what it always did. Free thinking and free minded.

      Do you even know what would happen if lies were spread by government?

      russian people must free their minds from their mindless government rhetoric.

      March 29, 2014 at 7:53 am | Reply
      • Folke Bernadotte

        How Russia thinks or runs itself is none of our concern. Russia is not imperialistic or aggressive.

        April 1, 2014 at 1:14 pm |
  22. Jteuyr Ngfd

    PROPAGANDA ALERT: "Why is America going to come and “take them” ??"

    March 29, 2014 at 7:27 am | Reply
  23. Jteuyr Ngfd

    PROPAGANDA ALERT: "And most of the world isn’t concerned about this, China, India, Brazil and South Africa support Russia. As does most of the Middle East and even Karzai in Afghanistan. Let America and NATO get their underwear all out of shape over Crimea – nobody else gives a damn."

    March 29, 2014 at 7:25 am | Reply
  24. Jteuyr Ngfd

    PROPAGANDA ALERT: "You people who don’t live in Russia don’t know the Crimea was given to Ukraine by mistake in desperate 90s
    And in 1954 Crimea was transferred to Ukraine illegally as a “gift” as a symbol of “Eternal ties” between Ukraine and Russia."

    March 29, 2014 at 7:18 am | Reply
  25. Jteuyr Ngfd

    "Crimea area belongs to Russia historically since Peter the First and Catherine the Great. And this area was unduly occupied by Ukraine since the USSR was over." RUSSIA IS NOT A REAL COUNTRY IT IS A MUD HOLE FILLED WITH COMMUNISTS THOUGH WHO PRETEND THEY ARE WHITE BUT THEY ARE NOT

    March 29, 2014 at 7:14 am | Reply
    • glennrobert

      The one young Russian woman I met was red haired, blue eyed, with pale white skin. Not much sun light in much of Russia! She stated that Russia lost 30 million, dead, as a result of WWII2.

      April 6, 2014 at 1:41 am | Reply
  26. Sagan

    UN, NATO and EU should realize that Russia has already invaded Ukraine. They have invaded Crimea which is a part of Ukraine, shattering the framework and backbone of every goverment in this planet. Not a single time in this era that we should allow this to happen. As this will become a deterrent threat that any country with military dominance over another could just annex(subtle word for invade) any country in just a snap. The leaders should resolve their "superpower" mindset. Superpowers are supposed to protect each other if they want long lasting peace, but it seems to me they don't, and therefore the eventuality of this could be another World War. The rest of the world do not deserve this.

    March 29, 2014 at 3:45 am | Reply
    • Mazo

      Hyperbole much?? If USA can invade Iraq on a fantasy, so can Putin invade Ukraine on a fantasy. Just because Ukranians have white skin doesn't make the laws any more applicable to them.

      And most of the world isn't concerned about this, China, India, Brazil and South Africa support Russia. As does most of the Middle East and even Karzai in Afghanistan. Let America and NATO get their underwear all out of shape over Crimea – nobody else gives a damn.

      March 29, 2014 at 4:13 am | Reply
    • Numerius

      You people who don't live in Russia don't know the Crimea was given to Ukraine by mistake in desperate 90s
      And in 1954 Crimea was transferred to Ukraine illegally as a "gift" as a symbol of "Eternal ties" between Ukraine and Russia.

      March 29, 2014 at 4:31 am | Reply
      • Folke Bernadotte

        There are a few in the West who understand that Crimea is part of Russia.

        March 29, 2014 at 4:39 pm |
      • Numerius

        Folke Bernadotte, Glad to hear that.
        I'm againt futher moves too, but Crimea....

        March 30, 2014 at 6:28 am |
  27. joe

    attacking Ukraine is one thing..attacking a NATO country Russia doesn't even want to think about..

    March 29, 2014 at 3:32 am | Reply
    • Mazo

      NATO is just an 60 year old organization on its last legs, without America the rest are nothing. France, Germany etc are not going to save anybody except themselves.

      And there are more ways to skin a cat than through military force. Putin isn't some Middle Eastern dictator with a one-trick pony. He'll just switch strategy and destroy them from the inside out if he has to. Send enough arms and weapons and Spetznaz soldiers in to create a civil war that will last for decades and leave NATO the job of cleaning up the mess.

      March 29, 2014 at 4:16 am | Reply
  28. Edvard

    Оn this video is shown, how Russia brings back ukraine tanks to Kiev that their military have left in the Crimea area when they were running out from there!!
    Moreover if you try to learn some history you should know that the Crimea area belongs to Russia historically since Peter the First and Catherine the Great. And this area was unduly occupied by Ukraine since the USSR was over.

    March 29, 2014 at 3:14 am | Reply
    • joe

      The Tatars might disagree with you..as well as the Turks.. who are the RIGHTFUL owners of Crimea..

      March 29, 2014 at 3:33 am | Reply
      • Edvard

        So, then the Neanderthal man would be disagree with you and Tatars ...

        :)))

        March 29, 2014 at 3:39 am |
      • Mazo

        Russians TOOK crimea from the Tartars and their Turk masters. If they want it back they will have to come and take it and this time the Tartars won't be deported to Siberia, they will be "deported to hell" eating Kalashnikov rounds upside the head.

        March 29, 2014 at 4:21 am |
  29. kane

    gee, do the Russkies have W\MD?

    March 28, 2014 at 11:31 pm | Reply
    • Numerius

      What's W/MD?

      March 29, 2014 at 4:09 am | Reply
    • Mazo

      Why is America going to come and "take them" ??

      March 29, 2014 at 4:25 am | Reply
    • glennrobert

      Russia is the only country that can destroy the US. in less than two hours! Of course, they would go also. Do you remember "mutually assured destruction"?

      April 6, 2014 at 1:48 am | Reply
  30. Keith B. Rosenberg

    It does not take a rich intelligence organization to know that there is a greater chance Russia will invade Eastern Ukraine.

    March 28, 2014 at 10:20 pm | Reply
    • TalkativeMime

      The New Hitler must be Stopped!

      March 28, 2014 at 10:48 pm | Reply
      • Numerius

        I agree! Obama must be stopped! :)

        March 29, 2014 at 3:30 am |
      • Mazo

        Are you talking about Premier Obama and the imperial NATO war-machine ??

        Did you American chimps really except Russia to lay down and die while you expanded NATO into former Soviet bloc nations and build missile defense around Russia ?? You sowed the wind, now you reap the whirlwind.

        Putin only exposes America's impotence for the world to see. Beating up Arab and Taliban rabble is easy, but you thought you were suddenly some tough guys for harassing weaker nations and leaders with your military. Putin is not weak and neither is Russia.

        March 29, 2014 at 4:24 am |
  31. Jteuyr Ngfd

    CONGRESS WILL BE CLEANSED

    March 28, 2014 at 7:39 pm | Reply
  32. Jteuyr Ngfd

    BEYOND...THAT ALL...BS

    March 28, 2014 at 7:33 pm | Reply
  33. Jteuyr Ngfd

    putin like obama is incapable of listening

    March 28, 2014 at 7:30 pm | Reply
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