Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could be launched within days, US warns

The United States has warned that a Russian invasion of Ukraine could be launched within days after President Joe Biden summoned transatlantic leaders to a meeting to discuss the crisis and other issues. Embassies have stepped up warnings for their citizens to leave the country.

Jake Sullivan, the White House’s national security adviser, said there was a “credible prospect” of Russia launching an attack on Ukraine before the Beijing Olympics ended on February 20.

While the United States does not believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin has yet to make a “final decision,” Washington said the country has built up enough military capacity, including troops and equipment, to make the move. early next week.

Sullivan said an invasion could take many forms, including a “rapid attack” on Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital. He added that an invasion “potentially begins with missile attacks and aerial bombing, which could obviously kill civilians regardless of their nationality”.

“A subsequent ground invasion will involve the assault of a large force with almost no notice,” he added.

Biden’s national security adviser said Russia would face a stronger and more determined Nato coalition, “huge pressure” on its economy and a wave of “condemnation” from around the world. the world if this country launches an attack.

Russia is strengthening its military capabilities along the Ukrainian border, sending more troops and equipment to the region, and starting large-scale exercises in regions in Belarus.

International Brent oil prices rose 4.3% to $95.25 a barrel in afternoon New York trading. The US ticker West Texas Intermediate rose 5% to $94.36. The Russian ruble fell 3.2% against the dollar, hitting its weakest level since early February. Traders sought shelter in haven assets, sending yields on US government bonds plunging.

Sullivan spoke after Biden held a call with his counterparts, including the leaders of Germany, France and Britain, to discuss their strategy toward Russia. Mr. Sullivan said Biden could also talk to Putin.

An ally of Boris Johnson, the UK prime minister, said the call was “very serious”. During the call, Johnson said he was “fearing for the security of Europe,” according to an account on Downing Street.

The UK on Friday urged its citizens to leave Ukraine and said it would withdraw some embassy staff. Japan, the Netherlands and Latvia also advise their nationals to leave as soon as possible. The United States reiterates the warning for its citizens to evacuate.

The new US warning follows a series of high-level diplomacy in an attempt to defuse the crisis, led by French President Emmanuel Macron, who met Putin in Moscow this week.

In Ukraine, the government stepped up defense preparations. President Volodymyr Zelensky called on officials to support efforts to bring 1.5 million to 2 million civilians into the newly created territorial defense force under the command of the military.

“This is a reliable rear for a professional and well-equipped army, which together form the basis of our state, a strong state,” Zelensky said after a meeting with regional governors. .

Valeriy Zaluzhny, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, said: “This is a force that can restrain the enemy and prevent them from thinking about setting foot on our land. . . the purpose of all this is against every city, every village, on every street and in every house. ”

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