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U.S. President Joe Biden has informed other NATO and EU leaders that he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to carry out an invasion of Ukraine, which could happen in the next few days, according to diplomatic sources quoted by the British newspaper The Guardian.
Biden announces Putin’s invasion of Ukraine: US and UK ask their citizens to leave the country now
Biden’s call to his allies followed a meeting at the White House to discuss the latest intelligence on the Russian military buildup and Putin’s thinking.
“Practical things will start to happen on the ground as a result of this decision, but that doesn’t mean Putin can’t back down,” a European diplomat told the Guardian, insisting it was not too late to dissuade the Russian leader.
The U.S. president and his Russian counterpart will discuss Ukraine this Saturday, a senior U.S. administration official has confirmed.
This is what the attack would look like
Several invasion scenarios are considered possible, but the prevailing belief is that any military intervention ordered by Putin would be designed to bring about regime change in Kiev.
That could involve a blitzkrieg attack, aimed at encircling the capital, with the intention of forcing the collapse of President Zelenskiy’s government and attempting to install a pro-Russian regime without urban warfare.
U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told a press conference Friday that “the way it has built its forces and positioned them, along with the other indicators we have gathered through intelligence, makes it clear to us that there is a very distinct possibility that Russia will choose to act militarily, and there is reason to believe that could happen in a reasonably quick timeframe.”
“We can’t pinpoint the day at this point, and we can’t pinpoint the time, but what we can say is that there is a credible possibility that Russian military action could take place, even before the end of the (Winter, Beijing, Olympic Games, which end on the 20th).”
That being the case, the United States on Friday urged its citizens to leave Ukraine in the next 24 to 48 hours and warned that it will not put its soldiers in “a war zone” to rescue Americans who decided to stay on Ukrainian territory.
“If you stay, you are taking a risk with no guarantee that there will be another opportunity to leave, and there is no prospect of a U.S. military evacuation in the event of a Russian invasion,” Sullivan said.
“If a Russian attack on Ukraine continues, it would likely begin with aerial bombardment and missile strikes that could obviously kill civilians regardless of their nationality. A subsequent ground invasion would involve a massive force attack with virtually no warning. Communications to organize a sortie could be disrupted and commercial transit could be halted,” warned Jake Sullivan.
So could the United Kingdom
The main U.S. ally in Europe, the United Kingdom, has also ordered its citizens to evacuate. The UK Foreign Office on Friday asked its citizens to leave Ukraine “immediately”.
In a statement, the British Foreign Office has considered that British citizens “should leave” while the commercial means to do so are still available. It has also warned against traveling to the European country.
“The safety of our nationals is our top priority, which is why we have updated our travel alert,” a British Foreign Office spokesman has justified.
The EU and its diplomatic staff
For its part, the European Union will let non-essential diplomatic staff leave Ukraine, after reviewing the situation in the country.
As confirmed by EU Foreign Affairs spokesman Peter Stano, non-essential diplomatic staff will have the opportunity to “telework from outside the country”, indicating that this is not an evacuation as such of the EU delegation in Kiev, in line with what has been decided by countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom or Canada.
“We continue to assess the situation as it evolves, in line with our duty of care for our staff and in close consultation and coordination with EU member states,” he said.