Senior Defense Official: Russia Intends to Decapitate Ukrainian Government

Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the nation in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Feb. 21, 2022. Russia's Putin has recognized the independence of separatist regions in eastern Ukraine, raising tensions with West. (Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

A senior defense official told reporters Thursday that Russia has “every intention of basically decapitating” Ukraine’s government.

“They’re making a move on [Kyiv], yes, but what they’re going to do in [Kyiv] is hard to say. We still believe, it’s our assessment, that they have every intention of basically decapitating the government and installing their own method of governance,” the official said during the background briefing.

The assessment comes after Russia on Thursday morning began an attack on several key cities in Ukraine from three different axes — from Crimea to Kherson, Belarus to Kyiv, and Belarus to Kharkiv.

The official emphasized that the assault is still in its initial phases. The official said that thus far, the U.S. estimates that roughly more than 100 Russian-launched missiles of various types have hit primarily military targets in Ukraine.

“The targets thus far [have been] primarily focused on military and air defense, so barracks, ammunition warehouses, nearly 10 airfields targeted,” the official said.

The official said Russian troops have not yet moved into Western Ukraine and that U.S. troops remain outside of Ukraine.

The official, however, would not rule out any future deployments within Europe or even from the U.S. to Europe.

“I’m not going to take off the table the possibility that there will be other repositionings inside Europe or even perhaps deployments from the United States,” the official said.

The official added that the Biden Administration would continue to supply Ukraine with lethal and non-lethal aid, but said the methods might be different due to the last 12 hours. “But we’re still going to look at ways that can be done.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened other countries not to intervene.

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