US intel:Russia could invade Ukraine

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New U.S. intelligence assessments say there are more indications than ever that Russia could invade eastern Ukraine, as congressional lawmakers reacted with alarm to Vladimir Putin's rapidly expanding military buildup along the border. "The thinking in the U.S. government is that the likelihood of a major Russian incursion into Ukraine has increased," a senior U.S. official told Fox News. The new thinking is based mostly off analysis of public information, such as heightened rhetoric from Putin and his claims that Russian-speaking people in Ukraine face "brutality." He is building a public case for more military action, according to senior U.S. officials. Also significant is the large buildup of Russian forces along the border with Ukraine. U.S. Defense officials say the numbers of troops far exceeds the amount needed for a training exercise. And the fact that there is no real evidence any large-scale exercises have occurred, and that none of the troops have returned to their bases, is also concerning to U.S. observers. Some have estimated the troop strength to be at about 30,000 -- Rep. Michael Turner, R-Ohio, though, claimed Thursday that the number could be as high as 80,000. It is believed that an additional 50,000 troops may have flooded the region in the last few days. These indications are contributing to a growing sense of alarm in Washington. "I can't tell you how awful this is," said one congressional source who spoke to Fox News on the condition of anonymity. In Rome as part of an overseas tour, President Obama stressed the need for the U.S. to support Ukraine. The Senate, shortly after noon, approved the first major Ukraine aid bill -- one which also includes sanctions against Russia. The House approved a different version, but each would provide $1 billion to Ukraine, and lawmakers are trying to iron out the differences before the end of the day. The massive troop buildup along the border is reminiscent of Russia's military movements prior to the conflicts in Chechnya and Georgia, one official said. A Defense official said if Russia were to invade the mainland, Ukraine would attempt to defend itself and this would be "far from a bloodless event as we saw in Crimea." However, Ukraine would be outmatched, this official said. The latest assessment offers a consensus view of intelligence agencies and the U.S. military. The assessment also takes into account that Putin likely has the desire to create a land bridge into Crimea. FAIR USE NOTICE: This video may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes only. This constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. Educational video for purposes of commentary and criticism - Copyright is not applicable


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