Russia has enough troops around Ukraine’s border to seize its capital Kyiv but not enough for a full takeover and occupation, Ukraine’s former defense minister said on Sunday.

“Russia could now seize any city in Ukraine, but we still don’t see the 200,000 troops needed for a full-scale invasion,” Andriy Zagorodnyuk told The Guardian newspaper.

Underlining that he did not believe a Russian invasion is inevitable, he said the Kremlin’s intentions and strategy remain opaque.

“We don’t see a political endgame here,” he said. “If (Russian President Vladimir) Putin seizes Kyiv there will be full-scale war. The Ukrainian army forces will fight. There will be enormous resistance for all time. Why would you do that?” he added.

He added that the US administration was right to release intelligence about Russian plans and capabilities.

The US army and intelligence officials had determined the situation that 50,000 people would die and 5 million would become refugees if Russia invades Ukraine.

Indicating that Russia is close to completing preparations for a large-scale invasion of Ukraine, the authorities evaluated that the government in Kyiv would fall within two days.

Moscow and Kyiv have been locked in conflict since hostilities in the eastern Donbas region broke out in 2014 after Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula.

Russia has now amassed thousands of troops near Ukraine’s borders, prompting fears it could be planning another military offensive against the former Soviet republic.

The US and its allies have warned of an imminent attack, and threatened Russia of “severe consequences.”

Moscow, however, has denied it is preparing to invade Ukraine and said its troops are there for exercises.

Efforts by world leaders including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are afoot to resolve the row peacefully. Turkiye has offered to host a peace summit between the leaders of Russia and Ukraine, Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky, respectively.

* Writing by Gozde Bayar

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