Jeffrey Edmonds, former director for Russia at the National Security Council, joins Shep Smith to discuss Russia’s military buildup at the Ukrainian border and how this differs from Putin’s previous threats to the country. For access to live and exclusive video from CNBC subscribe to CNBC PRO:
The U.K. is considering doubling its troop numbers and sending defensive weapons to Estonia, a fellow NATO member country, as security conditions on Ukraine’s border with Russia deteriorate.
U.K. officials are expected to visit NATO’s headquarters next week to finalize details of the proposed security package proposal, which will include additional troops, fighter jets and warships.
The British Embassy in Washington said Johnson is slated to speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin this week and will travel to the region in the coming days. U.K. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace is also expected to meet with NATO allies in Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia this week.
“This package would send a clear message to the Kremlin – we will not tolerate their destabilizing activity, and we will always stand with our NATO allies in the face of Russian hostility,” U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote in a Sunday evening statement.
“If President Putin chooses a path of bloodshed and destruction, it will be a tragedy for Europe. Ukraine must be free to choose its own future,” he added.
The U.K. currently has more than 900 British military personnel based in Estonia, more than 100 troops in Ukraine and approximately 150 soldiers in Poland.
The HMS Prince of Wales aircraft carrier is currently on standby to move within hours should tensions rise further.
Last week, the U.S. Pentagon placed 8,500 U.S. servicemembers on “heightened alert” to deploy to Europe should NATO activate a response force. The troops represent America’s contribution to the 40,000-strong NATO Response Force, or NRF, whose activation requires approval of all 30 NATO members.
U.S. President Joe Biden has not committed to sending U.S. combat troops directly to Ukraine but instead to neighboring NATO countries.
For months, the West has watched a steady build-up of Kremlin forces along Ukraine’s border with Russia and Belarus. The increased military presence mimics Russian moves ahead of its 2014 illegal annexation of Crimea, a peninsula on the Black Sea, which sparked an international uproar and triggered a series of sanctions against Moscow.
The Kremlin has denied that the troop deployment is a prelude to an attack and has instead characterized the movement as a military exercise.
The Pentagon’s top officials warned Friday that the aftermath of a Russian invasion of Ukraine would be “horrific.”
“Given the type of forces that are arrayed, the ground maneuver forces, the artillery, the ballistic missiles, the air forces, all of it packaged together. If that was unleashed on Ukraine, it would be significant, very significant, and it would result in a significant amount of casualties and you can you imagine what that might look like in dense urban areas, all along roads, and so on and so forth,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army Gen. Mark Milley said.
“It would be horrific,” added Milley, the nation’s highest-ranking military officer.
Milley said that Russia’s posture along Ukraine’s border was unlike anything he has seen during his four-decade military career. He said the Russians have deployed air forces, naval forces, special forces, cyber electronic warfare, command and control, logistics engineers and other capabilities along Ukraine’s border.
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