Russia Invasion Could Begin Any Day, Us Warns

Image:The Guardian

Russia could invade Ukraine “at any time,” the US has warned, and American citizens should go quickly.

The White House indicated Friday that an invasion may begin with aircraft bombing, which would complicate exits and risk people.

Despite massing more than 100,000 troops near the border, Moscow has repeatedly denied any intention to invade Ukraine.

The US announcement spurred countries worldwide to issue additional cautions to citizens of Ukraine.

The State Department announced in a release that non-essential staff has been directed to vacate the US Embassy in Kyiv. Consular services will be terminated beginning Sunday, however the US will keep a “modest consular presence” in the western city of Lviv “to manage emergencies.”

Melinda Simmons, the UK’s ambassador to Ukraine, has tweeted that she and a core team are staying in Kyiv.

Meanwhile, Russia announced that it has chosen to “optimize” the size of its diplomatic staff in Ukraine. A spokeswoman for the foreign ministry expressed concerns about “provocations” by Kyiv or other parties.

Efforts to de-escalate tensions through diplomacy are scheduled to continue on Saturday, with US Vice President Joe Biden and France’s President Emmanuel Macron scheduled to speak by phone with Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan stated that Russian forces are now “in a position to launch a significant military action,” in words widely interpreted as a clear escalation in the seriousness of US officials’ warnings.

“Obviously, we cannot forecast the future; we have no idea what will happen, but the risk is now so high and the threat sufficiently imminent that [leaving] is wise,” he said.

Mr Sullivan added that while the administration was unaware if Russian President Vladimir Putin had made a final decision to invade, he believes the Kremlin is seeking a pretext to justify military action, which may begin with intense aircraft bombardment.

His remarks came as US authorities warned of a further build-up of Russian forces around Ukraine’s borders over the last week, as well as scheduled Russian military drills in the Black Sea in the coming days.

President Biden has stated that he will not dispatch soldiers to rescue stranded civilians in the case of Russian intervention.

On Friday, the US president convened a video conference call with transatlantic leaders in which they agreed on coordinated steps to punish Russia economically if it attacked Ukraine.

The US also announced the deployment of an additional 3,000 troops from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to Poland, with the troops due to arrive next week. The troops will not engage in combat in Ukraine, but rather defend US friends.

Mr Sullivan added that while the administration was unaware if Russian President Vladimir Putin had made a final decision to invade, he believes the Kremlin is seeking a pretext to justify military action, which may begin with intense aircraft bombardment.

His remarks came as US authorities warned of a further build-up of Russian forces around Ukraine’s borders over the last week, as well as scheduled Russian military drills in the Black Sea in the coming days.

President Biden has stated that he will not dispatch soldiers to rescue stranded civilians in the case of Russian intervention.

On Friday, the US president convened a video conference call with transatlantic leaders in which they agreed on coordinated steps to punish Russia economically if it attacked Ukraine.

The US also announced the deployment of an additional 3,000 troops from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to Poland, with the troops due to arrive next week. The troops will not engage in combat in Ukraine, but rather defend US friends.

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