One of the officials who spoke with CNN cautioned that the presence of Russian blood supplies near the Ukrainian border is not an absolute indicator of an invasion. Instead, it is one element among many the US is monitoring as the build-up of Russian forces steadily proceeds.
Ukraine has denied that Russia has moved any blood supplies to the front lines. On Saturday, Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar called the reports “not true.”
“This information is not true,” she said in a statement on Facebook. “Such ‘news’ is an element of information and psychological warfare. The purpose of such information is to spread panic and fear in our society.”
The White House, however, has said Ukraine has been downplaying the threat in a way that could lead the country to be unprepared for a potential Russian attack.
“We understand the difficult position (Ukrainian) President (Volodymyr) Zelensky is in and the pressure he’s under,” a White House official said Saturday. “But at the same time he’s downplaying the risk of invasion, he’s asking for hundreds of millions of dollars in weapons to defend against one. We think it’s important to be open and candid about that threat.”
CNN has reached out to the Russian Ministry of Defense.
Milley and Zaluzhny exchanged assessments of the security situation facing Ukraine, according to a readout of the call. Milley underscored US support for an independent Ukraine. He has also spoken in recent days with many of his NATO counterparts.
This headline and story have been updated to reflect additional reporting.