U.S. officers noticed Russia’s embassy evacuations coming. “We’ve data that signifies the Russian authorities was getting ready to evacuate their relations from the Russian Embassy in Ukraine in late December and early January,” a U.S. official stated in an announcement.

Ukrainian officers say they noticed the Russians depart.

However that leaves open the query of what, if something, the Russians have been signaling.

It’s potential they have been attempting to bolster the case that america and its Western allies ought to take critically their calls for that Ukraine can by no means be a part of NATO, and that troops, nuclear weapons and different heavy weaponry have to be faraway from former Warsaw Pact states, like Poland, that have been as soon as allied with the Soviet Union.

It may be that the Russians have been attempting to point that an assault was brewing, although there have been no different alerts. Actually, the buildup of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border shouldn’t be rising at a price that Pentagon officers anticipated a month in the past.

The newest U.S. estimates are that about 60 battalion tactical teams, often known as B.T.G.s and every with a median of 800 troopers, are actually in place on the border with Ukraine. Mixed with different native forces, the Russians have about 77,000 troops on the border, with extra on the way in which. Others put the determine at nearer to 100,000 — a lot relies on how completely different forces are counted — however that’s nicely in need of the Pentagon’s estimate greater than a month in the past that the full quantity might rise to 175,000.

U.S. and European intelligence and army officers say Mr. Putin could also be ready for the bottom to freeze, making it simpler to get heavy tools over the border. Or he could also be increase slowly, for diplomatic benefit, as he awaits a written reply from the Biden administration and NATO to his calls for that they roll again NATO’s army posture to what it was 15 years in the past — a lot farther from Russia’s borders.

Whereas U.S. officers nonetheless consider Mr. Putin is undecided about his subsequent transfer, officers in Kyiv are assessing what an assault could seem like, if it occurs. It might come within the type of a full-on invasion, the Ukrainian safety official stated. Or Russia might launch a cyberattack on the Ukrainian vitality grid — far bigger than those performed in 2015 and 2016 — mixed with army escalation in Ukraine’s east, the place Russian-backed separatist forces stay deeply entrenched.