On Friday, top Biden administration officials said that Russia has all the forces it needs to launch an invasion of Ukraine, warning Americans in the country to leave immediately ahead of a war that could start within days, possibly even before the Winter Olympic games are over.
National security advisor Jake Sullivan said Friday there’s a “credible prospect” Russia could invade Ukraine before then end of the Winter Olympics are over on February 20.
During a press briefing Sullivan said, “Any American in Ukraine should leave as soon as possible, and in any event in the next 24 to 48 hours.”
Sullivan’s remarks echoed President Biden’s own warning Thursday for U.S. citizens in Ukraine to “leave now.” Biden in an interview with NBC News’ Lester Holt, said, “This is a very different situation, and things could go crazy quickly.”
The national security advisor pushed back on reports that suggested the U.S. has concluded Russian President Vladimir Putin had made a firm decision to invade.
“We are not saying a final decision has been made by President Putin,” Sullivan said at the White House press briefing. “What we are saying is that we have a sufficient level of concern based on what we are seeing on the ground, and what our intelligence analysts have picked up, that we are sending this clear message.”
Should Russia invade, the U.S. and it allies are “ready to respond decisively” through an array of actions, such as imposing “severe economic sanctions” and changes to NATO’s force posture, Sullivan said.
If Russia proceeds, its long-term power and influence will be diminished, not enhanced, by an invasion,” Sullivan said.
“It will face more determined transatlantic community. It will have to make more concessions to China, it’s ally. It will face massive pressure on its economy and export controls that will erode its defense industrial base, and it will face a wave of condemnation from around the world,” Sullivan said.
“Whatever happens next, the West is more united than it’s been in years,” Sullivan added.