US President Joe Biden has told other NATO and EU leaders that the US believes Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to carry out an invasion of Ukraine, which could happen in the next few days, diplomatic sources said on Friday.
Biden’s call to allies followed a situation room meeting at the White House to discuss the latest intelligence on the Russian military buildup and on Putin’s thinking, according to The Guardian.
Meanwhile, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on Friday that the US believes Russia could take offensive military action or attempt to spark a conflict inside Ukraine as early as next week.
Conflict “could begin during the Olympics despite a lot of speculation that it could only happen after” the Winter Games end, Sullivan told reporters at the White House on Friday, according to Bloomberg.
“What we can say is that there is a credible prospect that a Russian military action would take place even before the end of the Olympics,” he added.
A Russian attack would likely begin with aerial bombing and missile attacks that would cause widespread civilian casualties, Sullivan said, encouraging Americans in Ukraine to leave as soon as feasible.
Earlier on Friday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned that Russia could launch an invasion of Ukraine at any time, including during the Beijing Winter Olympics.
Blinken said Washington was continuing to "draw down" its embassy in Ukraine and repeated a State Department call to American citizens in Ukraine to leave the country immediately.
"Simply put, we continue to see very troubling signs of Russian escalation, including new forces arriving at the Ukrainian border," Blinken told a news conference in the Australian city of Melbourne, as quoted by Reuters.
"As we've said before, we're in a window when an invasion could begin at any time, and to be clear, that includes during the Olympics," he added.
On Thursday, US President Joe Biden issued a warning to any Americans who remain in Ukraine as Russia continues to threaten an invasion: Leave.
"American citizens should leave now," Biden said in an interview with NBC News, adding, “It’s not like we’re dealing with a terrorist organization. We’re dealing with one of the largest armies in the world. It’s a very different situation and things could go crazy quickly.”
Asked what scenario could prompt him to send troops to rescue Americans fleeing the country, Biden replied, “There’s not. That's a world war when Americans and Russia start shooting at one another.”
The interview came as the State Department issued an advisory stating that the US “will not be able to evacuate US citizens in the event of Russian military action anywhere in Ukraine.”
It warned that regular consulate service — including aiding citizens trying to leave the country — would be “severely impacted.”
(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)