The White House is bracing for a worst-case scenario should the Kremlin wage a full-scale war. NATO allies are attempting to walk a high wire, high-risk round of diplomacy as Russian troops continue their military posturing.
President Biden met with Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz today to discuss ways they can work together to stop Russian aggression along Ukraine's border. This follows the weekend release of intelligence highlighting how a Russian invasion could potentially leave Ukraine in shambles.
It also estimates, due to Vladimir Putin's number of troops assembled, that there could be nearly 50,000 civilian casualties and five million refugees if the invasion moves forward.
"Germany is one of America's closest allies, working in lockstep to deter Russian aggression and to address challenges posed by China, and to promote stability in the Western Balkans. Then we have to take on the pandemic, climate change, and many other issues," said President Biden.
Today, key diplomatic meetings were held to work on that preparation as threats of war still linger.
Biden's meeting with Scholz serves to bolster the two countries' commitment to de-escalate the crisis. One point of contention is the Russian-owned Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, which is becoming a key bargaining chip because it would bypass Ukraine and deliver gas directly to Germany.
Another important meeting in Moscow was with French President Emmanuel Macron and Vladimir Putin. While Macron says a deal to avoid full-scale war is possible, it would take discussions for a resolution.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with the Vice President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell during a pivotal moment, working out key details to protect Europe's energy crisis should Russia choose to further cut European natural gas supplies.
"When Russia halted gas supplies in 2009, people died as a result from the cold," Blinken noted. He went on to say there will be real and profound consequences should it continue aggression.
He added, "What happens next will depend on whether Putin will choose diplomacy or choose the path for further conflict with Ukraine. Either way, our allies and the U.S. are prepared."
Meanwhile, some 130,000 Russian forces are amassed along Ukraine's borders. Over the weekend, Russia's defense ministry released video of live-fire exercises while moving naval resources to the Mediterranean.
U.S. and European allies have warned for weeks a Russian invasion could be imminent, while Russian diplomats call those claims "madness and scaremongering."
Still, Ukrainian civilians are signing up as reservists and undergoing weapons and medical training as part of a worst-case scenario.
Rebekah Koffler, former DIA intelligence officer and author of Putin's Playbook: Russia's Secret Plan to Defeat America, says Russia's potential incursion is unfolding according to her prediction.
"Putin has been preparing for something like that for the past 20 years and our national security experts have missed every single indication and warning," said Koffler. "We are on the brink of a crisis that has the potential to escalate into WWIII."
If Russia chooses to invade Ukraine, the financial cost would be extremely high in the form of sanctions.
Senate Republicans and Democrats are working together to create a robust package they believe could be devastating to Russia's economy. Koffler doesn't believe those sanctions and other deterrents will have the effect our leaders hope for.
"We've been placing sanctions on Putin's government for several years now. Has it changed his behavior? Absolutely not," Koffler said. If anything his behavior has even worsened."