US intelligence officials concerned Kyiv could fall to Russia within days: reports

(The Hill) — U.S. intelligence officials have expressed concerns that Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv could fall to Russia within days, according to multiple reports.

Newsweek, citing three U.S. officials, said the U.S. thinks that Kyiv will fall within the next few days, which would severely hurt Ukraine’s resistance in the war.

“After the air and artillery end and the ground war really starts, I think Kyiv falls in just a few days,” a former senior U.S. intelligence official told the outlet, noting the military could hold out “but this isn’t going to last long.”

“Then it either becomes a robust insurgency or it doesn’t, depending largely on Biden,” the official added.

Another individual close to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government said it is “too early to say” whether the government will fall when Kyiv gets surrounded, adding, “They say Ukraine is holding better than they expected.”

That individual, however, did agree with the U.S. assessment that Russian forces could surround Kyiv in 96 hours.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukraine’s presidential chief of staff, issued a statement to Newsweek.

“The Office of the President of Ukraine believes the Russian federation has two tactical goals – to seize territories and attack the legitimate political leadership of Ukraine in order to spread chaos and install a marionette government that would sign a peace deal on bilateral relations with Russia,” Podolyak said. “The enemy attempts to destabilize [the] situation in large cities, in particular Kharkiv and Kyiv. The probability exists the Russian armed forces will seize the government quarters.”

A NATO official told the outlet that the report “sounds rather believable.”

Two sources familiar with the U.S. intelligence confirmed to CNN that U.S. officials originally saw the likelihood of Kyiv falling in the first few days but noted that Ukraine is putting up tougher resistance than originally expected.

Speaking to CNN, Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego (Ariz.), who serves on the Armed Services Committee, said Friday the U.S. should give weapons to the resistance if Kyiv falls.

“It certainly does impact our response about who we’re actually arming. At that point we have to make the realization that the Ukrainian military as we know it may be compromised and then I think we have to shift to actually supporting partisans and resistance fighters who are willing to take up the fight against Russia,” Gallego said.

Reports early on Friday said that Russian troops had entered the capital.