The cell is trying to tailor responses to the many types of attacks that could unfold in the coming weeks, from cyberattacks aimed at paralyzing Ukraine’s power grid and pipelines to seizing small or large amounts of territory.
Intelligence officials recently said they thought the least likely possibility was a full-scale invasion in which the Russians attempt to take the capital, Kiev. However, many of the assessments have explored more gradual measures by Putin, which could include the seizure of a little more land in the Donbas region, where the war has stalled, or a land bridge to Crimea.
Several officials familiar with planning say the administration is seeking European nations that could provide further assistance to support Ukrainian forces before any conflict, as well as in the initial stages of a Russian invasion.
Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col. Anton Semelroth noted in December that the United States had already committed more than $ 2.5 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since 2014, including $ 450 million in 2021 alone. Over the past three months , has delivered 180 Javelin missiles, two patrol boats, ammunition for grenade launchers, machine guns, security radios, medical equipment and other items that US officials describe as defensive in nature.
But the planning cell is considering more lethal weaponry, such as anti-aircraft weapons.
After visiting Ukraine last month, Rep. Seth Moulton, a Massachusetts Democrat and former Marine Corps officer, said that, in his view, “we have to make any incursion from Russia more painful: Day 1 painful, not within six months painful. “
“We have a short window to take decisive action to deter Putin from a serious invasion,” Moulton said in an interview. “I am concerned that our current deterrent tactics respond to an invasion rather than prevent it.”
One option likely to be debated in NATO next week is a plan to increase, possibly by several thousand, the number of troops stationed in the Baltic states and in Southeastern Europe.