White House warns Putin may be preparing to escalate the war in Ukraine

In this handout photo released by the Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on July 22, 2022, Russian soldiers fire a 2S4 Tyulpan self-propelled heavy mortar from their position at an undisclosed location in Ukraine. Even as the Russian war machine

The White House on Tuesday warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin may be preparing to surge more troops into Ukraine after four Russian-controlled regions announced plans to hold referenda on joining Russia.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Mr. Putin called the planned votes a “sham” and said the U.S. will never recognize this territory as anything other than part of Ukraine.

“We know that Russia will use the sham referenda as a basis to purportedly annex

He also said the White House is also aware of reports that Mr. Putin may be preparing to enact “mobilization measures” to conscript more Russians to “go fight its brutal war in Ukraine.”

Mr. Putin has yet to declare a full-scale war in Ukraine, referring to his invasion as a “special military operation,” which restricts his ability to draft or mobilize reserve forces.

Russia has sustained heavy territorial losses in recent weeks from Ukraine’s aggressive counter-offensive that was enabled by the flood of military aid pouring in from its western allies since the invasion.

Mr. Sullivan said the counter-offensive has put Russia in dire straights and in need of “more personnel and manpower given the success that Ukraine has had on the battlefield.”

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