The Pentagon currently assesses that Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a full-scale invasion into Ukraine so he can "decapitate" the government in Kyiv and install a new regime under his control, according to a senior defense official.
The Russians, the official said, have established three main “axis points” of assault: north from Crimea to Kherson, south from Belarus to Kyiv, and south from Belarus to Kharkiv.
“They have every intention of decapitating the government and installing their own means of government,” the official said.
Overnight, Russia fired more than 100 missiles, mostly ballistic, into Ukraine, some of which came from warships in the Black Sea and also from 75 fixed-wing heavy and medium bombers, the official said.
The Russians have also sent troops into northern Ukraine form their forward positions in Belarus.
“We do not have a good sense of total damage, we do not have a good sense of casualties,” the official said. “What we’re seeing right now are the initial phases.”
Meanwhile, the official said six U.S. F-35 Joint Strike Fighters are headed to the Baltic Region to bolster NATO allies: two to Lithuania, two to Estonia, and two to Romania. The United States is also sending additional military assets to shore up NATO’s eastern flank.
The official said refugees have begun to flee Ukraine into Poland.
The Ukrainian military, meanwhile, is fighting back.
“The Ukrainians are resisting,” the official said, but later noted that Russia has massive military capabilities and will likely continue to invade.
“They have an arsenal,” the official said. “This is just the initial phase. . . . If it unfolds the way that hereto we have come to believe that it will, it has every potential to be very bloody, very costly and very impactful on European security writ large. Perhaps for a long, long time to come.”
President Biden is scheduled to speak about the crisis at noon today.
Last night, Biden, who has promised to economically and diplomatically sanction Russia for the invasion, released a statement saying he had spoken with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“I condemned this unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces,” Biden said. “I briefed him on the steps we are taking to rally international condemnation, including tonight at the United Nations Security Council. He asked me to call on the leaders of the world to speak out clearly against President Putin’s flagrant aggression, and to stand with the people of Ukraine. Tomorrow, I will be meeting with the Leaders of the G7, and the United States and our Allies and partners will be imposing severe sanctions on Russia. We will continue to provide support and assistance to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.”