Russian forces at 70% of level needed for full Ukraine invasion, U.S. officials say:
Military vehicles are seen during the joint exercises of the armed forces of Russia and Belarus at a firing range in the Brest Region, Belarus February 3, 2022. Vadim Yakubyonok/BelTA/Handout via REUTERS
Russia has 70% of the forces in place that would be necessary for a full scale invasion of Ukraine and is actively sending more battalions to the border. The ground is expected to reach peak freeze by February 15, allowing for Russia to freely move its military units offroad. The combination of these two factors suggest that the chance to diplomatically settle this is nearing its end. While massing more than 100,000 troops along its Ukrainian border, Russia has said it has no plans for an invasion but may act if its security demands are not met. Though US executives have said that a full scale invasion of Ukraine is unlikely, Russia is putting forces in place capable of taking the Ukrainian capital in only a couple of days. According to US estimates, an invasion now could cost between 5,000 to 25,000 Ukrainian troop casualties and between 3,000 and 10,000 Russian troop casualties. This could also cost civilian lives in the range from 25,000 to 50,000 while displacing millions of refugees across Europe.
Thousands stage peaceful protest in Ottawa against Canada's vaccine mandates:
The leader of the Islamic State group blew up himself and his family members on Thursday as American forces raided his Syrian hideout. This is the second time in the last three years that the US has taken out the violent group’s leader. Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, a secretive man who kept out of the public eye, took control of the organization soon after the death of his predecessor. The IS controlled more than 40,000 square miles stretching from Syria to Iraq and ruled over 8 million people at the height of its power. The raid targeted al-Qurayshi. Witnesses say that around 50 U.S. special operations forces landed near the house in a rebel-controlled region in Syria and fought against gunmen for around 2 hours. According to Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command and the commander of the operation, the goal of the mission had been to capture al-Qurayshi.
EXPLAINER: Why India won’t send diplomat to China Olympics:
Army officers of India and China hold a meeting at Pangong lake region in Ladakh on the India-China border on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021. (Indian Army via AP, File) AP
India refuses to send its top diplomat at the Beijing embassy to the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing after a Chinese soldier wounded in a deadly border clash two years ago was given the honor of carrying the Olympic torch. India had previously considered sending the diplomat to the games even as other countries such as the U.S., Australia, Britain and Canada displayed their intentions to have a diplomatic boycott over China’s human rights violations. India’s boycott stems from a disputed border, called the Line of Actual Control, that separates Chinese- and Indian-held territories from one another. The dispute resulted in an armed conflict in 1962 that ended with a fragile truce whereby both sides agreed not to attack each other with firearms. In June 2020, the deadliest encounter in decades occurred there as the troops fought with rocks, clubs and their fists in an encounter that killed at least 20 Indian troops and four Chinese. This has dramatically altered the relationship between the two. Both rivals are now stationing tens of thousands of soldiers backed by artillery, tanks, and fighter jets along the border. It is likely that India’s boycott and China’s giving spotlight to a soldier with the title “hero regiment commander for defending the border” will only serve to raise tensions between the two.