ABC’s Martha Raddatz: Putin’s ‘Added At Least 10,000 More Troops’ Near Ukraine After Call With Biden

ABC News’ Martha Raddatz said on Sunday that Russia President Vladimir Putin has added more than 10,000 troops to his military build-up near Ukraine following his call with President Joe Biden.

“Russia’s ability at this point — and 175,000 troops, think of that,” Raddatz said. “When we went into Iraq, we were nowhere near 175,000 troops. But also remember back to 2014 and this point about Russian troops. There were reports that Putin set up mobile crematoriums because he was burning the bodies of those who were killed, so the Russians would not see caskets coming back.”

“He has to be thinking about that. But they could move in swiftly. Look, the administration and officials are telling me they are not faking it. Putin is not faking it, but that, on the other hand, he may be really good at not faking it. I mean, he is moving in those troops,” Raddatz continued. “After that call with President Biden, they added more troops. They added at least 10,000 more troops. So, if he’s bluffing, it’s a very, very good bluff.”

Fox News contributor Tammy Bruce responded to the clip by tweeting: “To my point that it’s *dangerous* having Biden speak directly w any consequential person on the world stage. All it does is *confirm* how feckless, weak & diminished the American president really is. Every day the charade continues, the Dems put this nation in extreme danger.”

MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT AND ABC “THIS WEEK” CO-ANCHOR: Well, I think you have heard the administration, you have heard Biden say how tough he was in that call and minced no words.

But Vladimir Putin, I’m told by U.S. officials, was equally tough. He did not back down. He played the victim. He said he was the aggrieved person, and stop with all this democracy. So, he was very, very tough. That’s the way it was described.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC “THIS WEEK” ANCHOR: And, Ambassador Taylor, is there any real mystery here about Putin’s intentions? He insists Ukraine is part of Russia.

He published, what, a 6,000-word essay this summer talking about that. Heading toward almost 200,000 troops on the border. We just saw those Ukrainians say they’re not too worried. Are they complacent?

WILLIAM TAYLOR, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: I don’t think they’re complacent.

You also heard those Ukrainian troops say they’re ready to die. They’re ready to defend their land. And they are. They will fight fiercely. They have fought fiercely, as you say, for seven-and-a-half years. They will continue to do that.

But no one knows, in answer to your question, what’s in President Putin’s mind. No one has figured that out. He might be bluffing. He might be just moving these troops up for purposes of getting, trying to intimidate President Zelensky or President Biden or NATO. Or he might be serious about taking over Ukraine. He is…

STEPHANOPOULOS: Why wouldn’t he invade?

TAYLOR: Why wouldn’t he?

Because it would be — rationally, it would be very, very costly, not just the economic sanctions that President Biden is talking about. The number of Russian troops that would die would be very large, and Ukrainians as well.

He would also lose, for example, that pipeline that is so important to him from Russia to Germany, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. It would be a very bad move for him and very costly. And that’s why — that’s why he wouldn’t.

STEPHANOPOULOS: On the military front, Martha, what do we know about the Russian capabilities and the capacity of the Ukraine to respond?

RADDATZ: Well, as the ambassador said, the Ukrainians have a lot of combat experience. They do. But they would be crushed. They truly would.

Russia’s ability at this point — and 175,000 troops, think of that. When we went into Iraq, we were nowhere near 175,000 troops. But also remember back to 2014 and this point about Russian troops. They — there were reports that Putin set up mobile crematoriums because he was burning the bodies of those who were killed, so the Russians would not see caskets coming back.

He has to be thinking about that. But they could move in swiftly. Look, the administration and officials are telling me they are not faking it. Putin is not faking it, but that, on the other hand, he may be really good at not faking it. I mean, he is moving in those troops.

After that call with President Biden, they added more troops. They added at least 10,000 more troops. So, if he’s bluffing, it’s a very, very good bluff.

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