By Anders Hagstrom
Russia could invade Ukraine “at any time,” including during the Olympics, Secretary of State Tony Blinken warned Friday.
Russia has amassed troops along Ukraine’s borders for months, and President Joe Biden has said an invasion is a “distinct possibility” in February. Blinken’s warning is the latest in a series of alarms from the U.S. warning Americans to evacuate Ukraine. He made the statement Friday following a meeting in Australia with that country’s foreign minister, Marise Payne. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: ‘Speak Loudly And Carry A Small Stick’: Republicans Blast Biden’s Response To Putin’s Escalation In Ukraine)
“We’re in a window when an invasion could begin at any time,” Blinken said of Ukraine. “And to be clear, that includes during the Olympics.”
Speaking in Australia, @SecBlinken tells Americans to leave Ukraine & said “we’re in a window when an invasion could begin at any time. And to be clear, that includes during the Olympics.” He adds the US is “continuing to draw down our embassy. We will continue that process.”
— Margaret Brennan (@margbrennan) February 11, 2022
Biden urged Americans to evacuate Ukraine multiple times this week, adding Thursday evening that he would not deploy U.S. troops to ensure a safe evacuation for Americans after an invasion. While Biden said Monday that U.S. diplomatic officials are remaining in the country, Blinken said Friday that the State Department is drawing down its embassy staff in the country.
Biden will host a virtual meeting with the heads of state of France, Germany, Italy, Poland the U.K., Canada, Romania, the EU and NATO on Friday to discuss Russian aggression. Biden has ruled out deploying U.S. troops to Ukraine, but has made several thousand troops available to supplement a NATO reaction force should Russia move further into Eastern Europe.
President Biden will host a virtual meeting today on Ukraine with the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, Poland, the United Kingdom, Canada, the EU and NATO, per the Canadian PM’s office.
— Josh Wingrove (@josh_wingrove) February 11, 2022
The State Department evacuated the families of U.S. diplomats from Ukraine in late January and sent out a memo advising U.S. citizens who were there for non-diplomatic purposes to evacuate as well.
The U.S., Germany and other NATO members have threatened severe economic consequences for Russia if Putin moves forward with an invasion. Biden stated that in addition to “decisive” sanctions, an invasion would end the Nord Stream 2 project. Nord Stream 2 is a years-long, multi-billion-dollar project to construct an oil pipeline from Russia to Germany. The project is all but completed, however, which raises questions as to how the U.S. could halt its completion.
Biden stated Monday alongside German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that if Russian “tanks or troops” cross the Ukrainian border, then “there will no longer be a Nord Stream 2.” While Scholz refused to specifically state that Germany would end the Nord Stream 2 project, he affirmed that Germany was “completely united” with the U.S. on any consequences for a Russian invasion.
“I promise you, we will be able to do it,” Biden said when pressed about how he would ensure the pipeline doesn’t move forward.