All Americans in Ukraine should “leave immediately,” the White House said on Friday, warning that Russia could invade the country “now every day” – perhaps even during the Olympics.
“Every American in Ukraine should leave as soon as possible and every event within the next 24-48 hours,” Jake Sullivan, a national security adviser to President Joe Biden, told a news conference.
The statement echoed Biden and China’s warning that U.S. citizens in Ukraine would “leave immediately.”
“These situations are very different and things can go crazy fast,” Biden told News Lester Holt in an interview.
The White House chief of staff said on Saturday that Mr. Biden would hold a personal telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin. French President Emmanuel Macron will also meet with Putin that day, he said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has accused U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken of conducting “propaganda campaigns” in Washington because of possible Russian atrocities, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Saturday.
In a phone conversation with Blinken on Saturday, Lavrov also said Washington and Brussels ignored Russia’s security concerns.
U.S. security adviser Sullivan said the U.S. was unsure whether Putin had taken the final step in Ukraine. But “it could happen in the short term,” he said.
On Friday, the head of the defense department told News that Minister Lloyd Austin had ordered 3,000 other U.S. soldiers to deploy to Poland over the weekend.
They should be admitted early next week, the official said. About 2,000 soldiers sent to Europe this month will join this current military base.
Russia has been building up its forces in various locations along the Ukrainian border for several months. More than 100,000 Russian troops were stationed there.
Russia currently has 80% of the troops needed to enter Ukraine, said the head of Western intelligence and the head of the US.
Entry, if any, is expected after the Beijing Winter Olympics to avoid confrontation with Russia’s aide, China.
The 2022 Winter Games, which will end on Feb. 20, have been marred by controversy, including protests over China’s human rights record and a recent revelation that a Russian athlete has failed drug tests.
But Sullivan stressed on Friday that the attack “could start during the Olympics, although there is much speculation” that it won’t happen.
When Russia invades, the United States and its allies are “ready to respond vigorously” through certain actions, such as the imposition of “severe economic sanctions” and NATO military reforms, ”Sullivan said.
“If Russia continues, its long-term strength and impact on inflation will not be excessive,” Sullivan said.
“It is faced with a strong transatlantic region. It needs to make more agreements with China. It faces huge economic pressures and sanctions that are undermining its security industrial base, and under international that pressure, ”he said.
“Whatever happens next, the West will be more united than in years past,” Sullivan said.
Biden called on several NATO leaders on Friday to discuss the Kremlin’s rise to the Russia-Ukrainian border.
In addition, the leaders agreed on the importance of joint efforts to prevent Russia’s atrocities against Ukraine, including a readiness to impose severe sanctions on Russia if it decides to strengthen its operations, and maintain strong NATO-based defense in the east, according to the White house.
Other countries, including Britain and Israel, have also invited their citizens to leave Ukraine.