The Biden administration has cautioned all American citizens in Ukraine to leave and warned them that in the event of a major Russian invasion, the US will not send military troops into the country to escort them out.
The United States isn’t the only country warning its citizens to depart Ukraine. Others urging its citizens to depart what appears to be imminent fighting in Ukraine include the Netherlands, Latvia, Belgium, the UK, Canada, Australia, Japan, Israel, and even Russia. The Russians said that they will optimize their embassy staff because they feared “provocations” by Ukraine and others in Kyiv.
Meanwhile, in Washington, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told members of the media at a White House press briefing that the buildup of Russian forces indicates to US intelligence analysts that an invasion by Russia could occur “at any time” and not after the Olympics were over, as previously reported.
“We want to be crystal-clear on this point: Any American in Ukraine should leave as soon as possible, and in any event, in the next 24 to 48 hours,” Sullivan said.
“We obviously cannot predict the future. We don’t know exactly what is going to happen. But the risk is now high enough and the threat is now immediate enough that this is what prudence demands,” he added.
“If you stay, you are assuming risk with no guarantee that there will be any other opportunity to leave and no prospect of a U.S. military evacuation in the event of a Russian invasion.”
The New York Times quoted an unnamed military source that stated that they’ve picked up intelligence that the Russians could begin offensive operations as early as Wednesday, due to the intelligence that they were briefed on. The attack, the US fears would probably be preceded by a false flag operation, several of which have already been unearthed and publicly posted to prevent the Russians from conducting them.
These unusual intelligence releases have caught the Russians off guard according to a senior US source by CNN, and intelligence intercepts have also reported that Russian military and intelligence officials have been complaining about the leaks of their plans.
However, those same officials included the caveat that this could also be part of an elaborate Russian disinformation program.
President Joe Biden is slated to speak with Russian President Putin on Saturday morning. French President Macron is also scheduled to speak with Putin this weekend. However, the Russian Foreign Ministry has reiterated that the United States is stirring up talk of impending war as mere propaganda.
“A coordinated information attack is being conducted against Moscow, aimed at undermining and discrediting Russia’s fair demands for security guarantees, as well as at justifying Western geopolitical aspirations and military absorption of Ukraine’s territory,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote.
“The White House’s hysteria is as revealing as ever. The Anglo-Saxons need war at any price.”
Adding to the dim prospects of a peaceful conclusion to the Ukrainian security situation was the separate negotiation between the UK, represented by British foreign secretary, Liz Truss, and Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, which produced no results. Lavrov characterized the talks as “the conversation of a mute person with a deaf person.”
The UK had sent troops to train Ukrainian soldiers on anti-tank missiles that they’d supplied to the Ukrainians have been ordered to depart the country by this weekend.
James Heapey, the UK’s Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Armed Forces said that “All of them will be withdrawn. There will be no British troops in Ukraine if there is to be a conflict there.”
While Russia is massing over 130,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders, the Russian Navy is conducting large-scale live-fire exercises in the Black Sea that will close large swaths of the sea which will effectively blockade Ukrainian ports, including the port of Odesa. The naval exercises are expected to last six days.
Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. He has served as a US Army Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer before injuries forced his early separation. In addition to writing for 19fortyfive.com, he has covered the NFL for PatsFans.com for more than 10 years and his work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.