Friday, February 11, 2022

U.S. Says Russian Invasion of Ukraine Could Be Imminent: Biden Administration Warns U.S. Citizens to Leave Country as 'Soon as Possible' (VIDEO)

I almost can't contemplate a major European land-war in Europe in 2022. It seems unreal, though I don't doubt the intelligence. It's weird because Russia's a weak mid-level power whose leader is not unlike Kim Jong Un --- one who bluffs, blusters, and bullies until any and all opposition to Moscow's aims melt aside amid craven national self-interests in the West. 

No, we don't have to send U.S. troops to Ukraine. 

We do need to do something, and not the continuation of Biden's weaselly warnings that Moscow will pay a "terrible price!" should Russian troops waltz right on in. Pfft. 

At the Wall Street Journal, "U.S. Says Russia Could Invade Ukraine at Any Time":

WASHINGTON—The White House said Friday it believes Russia could invade Ukraine at any time with a major military action and urged Americans to leave the country as soon as possible.

In the White House briefing room Friday, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the U.S. wouldn’t conduct a military evacuation of citizens from a war zone. He said Americans should leave Ukraine on their own in the next 24 to 48 hours while land, rail and air routes out of the country remain open, in the most pointed directive yet from the White House.

“We are in the window when an invasion could begin at any time should [Russian President] Vladimir Putin decide to order it.”

He added: “If a Russian attack on Ukraine proceeds it is likely to begin with aerial bombing and missile attacks that could obviously kill civilians without regard to their nationality. A subsequent ground invasion would involve the onslaught of a massive force. With virtually no notice, communications to arrange a departure could be severed and commercial transit halted.”

Mr. Sullivan said an invasion could occur during the Winter Olympics. Until Friday, many U.S. officials and outside analysts believed that if Mr. Putin were to order an invasion, he might await the conclusion of the Games on Feb. 20 out of deference to Chinese President Xi Jinping, whom he would be disinclined to upstage with a military incursion.

The U.S. wasn’t closing the door on diplomacy, however, and President Biden, who is at the presidential retreat Camp David in rural Maryland this weekend, was expected to speak with Mr. Putin in coming days, Mr. Sullivan said.

While U.S. officials declined to detail the new intelligence, some of it appears to consist of fresh signs that Moscow is preparing a pretext to invade its neighbor. The intelligence, officials said, has pushed forward the Biden administration’s understanding of Mr. Putin’s timeline.

“The level of concern is increasing on the imminence” of an invasion, one official said.

Oil prices jumped to fresh eight-year highs Friday on fears of an invasion, while U.S. stocks and bond yields sank, with investors fleeing to safer assets. The S&P 500 had tumbled 1.9% as of the 4 p.m. ET close of trading. The Nasdaq Composite erased 2.8%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 504 points, or 1%.

Mr. Sullivan said the disposition of Russian forces around Ukraine’s borders showed Russia was positioned to mount a major military action in Ukraine any day now, but said the U.S. didn’t know whether Mr. Putin had made a “final decision.”

“Russia could choose in very short order to commence a major military action against Ukraine,” he said. “We are ready either way.”

Mr. Sullivan said the U.S. envisioned a large-scale incursion by Mr. Putin. U.S. officials have said that an invasion could result in 25,000 to 50,000 civilians killed or wounded if Russia mounted an all-out attack and sought to occupy the entire country.

“I can’t obviously predict what the exact shape or scope of the military action will be…but there are very real possibilities that it will involve the seizure of a significant amount of territory in Ukraine and the seizure of major cities including the capital,” Mr. Sullivan said.

Ukrainian and U.S. officials say Russian action could also take the form of cyberattacks on critical Ukrainian infrastructure, sabotage, or efforts to undermine the Ukrainian state.

U.S. officials estimate as many as 35,000 Americans were in Ukraine at the start of the year, although as few as 7,000 are registered with the State Department.

Mr. Sullivan’s comments echo a statement from Secretary of State Antony Blinken earlier Friday.

“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,” Mr. Blinken said in Melbourne, Australia.

Also Friday, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley spoke with his Russian counterpart, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, the Pentagon said. The two generals “discussed several security-related issues of concern.” And President Biden discussed the Ukraine crisis with the leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and European Union allies.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon said Friday that it would deploy an additional 3,000 troops to bolster the defenses of NATO allies that could house and support Americans evacuating from Ukraine. U.S. officials said earlier this week that hundreds of U.S. troops would be deployed inside Poland along its border with Ukraine to help facilitate the safe evacuation of Americans and others from inside Ukraine.

The U.S. troops aren’t authorized to enter Ukraine, nor will any evacuations involve U.S. aircraft, officials have said.

In warning of the Russian military buildup, Mr. Sullivan was referring to the deployment by Moscow of more than 100,000 troops to the border with Ukraine, the movement toward Ukraine of heavy weaponry from bases in the Russian Far East, and the movement of Russian troops and missile batteries into Belarus.

To bolster the military position of the Kyiv government against Russia’s overwhelming advantage in air, sea, artillery, missiles and manpower, the U.S. and NATO countries have been transporting defensive weaponry to Ukraine. Those include small-arms ammunition, mortar and artillery shells, antitank guided missiles, Stinger antiaircraft missiles, grenade launchers, explosive- ordnance disposal suits and Mossberg 500 pump-action shotguns, according to U.S. and Ukrainian officials. The shipments haven’t included advanced antiship missiles or sophisticated air-defense systems.

Russia has denied it intends to invade its neighbor. But Moscow says NATO’s expansion into Eastern Europe since the end of the Cold War poses a threat to its security and has demanded the alliance swear off ever adding Ukraine and pull back troops from its eastern flank.

While rejecting Moscow’s demands regarding the future of NATO’s security posture, the U.S. and NATO have offered Moscow a menu of reciprocal proposals that would provide for inspections of U.S. missile defense sites in Poland and Romania and curbs on military exercises. At the same time, the U.S. and Europe have threatened crippling sanctions aimed at Russian banks and industry and the nation’s economy in the event of an incursion.