US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told NBC News on Wednesday evening that Russian forces could engage in a full invasion of Ukraine before the night is over.
Asked by interviewer Lester Holt if he has reason to believe that Russian forces will be engaged in “something akin to a full invasion of Ukraine” before the night is over, Blinken replied, “I do.”
“Unfortunately, Russia has positioned its forces at the final point of readiness across Ukraine’s borders to the North, to the East, to the South. Everything seems to be in place for Russia to engage in a major aggression against Ukraine,” he added.
Holt then followed up and asked, “To be clear, you think tonight that could happen? Or will happen?”
Blinken replied, “Look, I can’t put date or an exact time on it, but everything is in place for Russia to move forward.”
The Secretary of State’s comments came hours after the Kremlin announced that rebel leaders in eastern Ukraine have asked Russia for military assistance to help fend off Ukrainian "aggression".
In response, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba announced he had demanded an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council.
"Ukraine has requested an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council due to the appeal by Russian occupation administrations in Donetsk and Luhansk to Russia with a request to provide them with military assistance, which is a further escalation of the security situation," Kuleba said on Twitter, according to Reuters.
The United Nations Security Council later said it will hold an emergency meeting Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian parliament on Wednesday approved a 30-day state of emergency in light of the Russian military incursion into the eastern part of the country.
The state of emergency allows authorities to restrict movement, block rallies and ban political parties and organizations “in the interests of national security and public order.”