The US is not backing down from claiming Russia is preparing to invade Ukraine despite Moscow’s repeated denials and Ukraine’s downplaying of the threat. On Friday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan warned the threat of a Russian invasion is now “immediate” and said it could happen before the end of the Beijing Olympics, which are scheduled to conclude on February 20th.
Sullivan also warned Americans in Ukraine to leave within the next 48 hours and said the US military wouldn’t evacuate them if a war breaks out. Earlier in the day, PBS reported that US intelligence officials believed Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to invade, but Sullivan denied the report.
“We are not saying that a decision has been taken – that a final decision has been taken by President Putin. What we are saying is that, we have a sufficient level of concern based on what we are seeing on the ground,” he said.
Besides pointing to a Russian military presence in western Russia and Moscow’s drills in Belarus, Sullivan offered no evidence to back up his warning. In response, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova slammed the US claims as “misinformation.”
“The hysteria of the White House is more indicative than ever,” Zakharova said. “The Anglo-Saxons need a war. At any cost. Provocations, misinformation, and threats are a favorite method of solving their own problems.”
Russia has little to gain from invading Ukraine, but an escalation in the war in the eastern Donbas region is always possible, and the US is poised to blame Russia for any violence in the region, no matter who initiates it. Sullivan repeated the unsubstantiated claim that Russia might be plotting a “false flag” as a pretext for an invasion.
Also on Friday, the Kremlin said that Putin and Biden are set to hold a call on Saturday at Washington’s request. “Indeed, the US side requested a conversation with President Putin, and the talks of the two presidents are planned to take place tomorrow in the evening,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.