White House says Russia could launch attack in Ukraine 'at any point'
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Tuesday that the U.S. believes that Russia could carry out an attack on Ukraine “at any point,” underscoring the immediacy of the threat should Moscow decide to take action.
“Our view is this is an extremely dangerous situation. We're now at a stage where Russia could at any point launch an attack in Ukraine,” Psaki told reporters at a briefing, adding later that her language was “more stark than we have been.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken plans to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday as the U.S. seeks to ward off an invasion of Ukraine by Russia, which has amassed 100,000 troops on the border with Ukraine and recently moved forces to Belarus for joint military drills.
The meeting follows high-level diplomatic talks between U.S. and Russian officials and NATO in Europe last week. Blinken and Lavrov spoke by phone on Tuesday and agreed to meet.
Blinken plans to urge the Russians to deescalate the situation and take the diplomatic path offered by the U.S. and its allies, Psaki said, reiterating that there would be significant economic consequences should Russia choose to invade Ukraine.
“It is up to the Russians to determine which path they are going to take, and the consequences are going to be severe if they don’t take the diplomatic path,” Psaki said.
President Biden told Russian President Vladimir Putin on a video call in December that Russia would face sanctions if it invaded Ukraine and that the U.S. would move to bolster NATO’s eastern flank and increase military aid to Ukraine in the event of an invasion.
Psaki on Tuesday disputed reports that cutting Russia off from the SWIFT global banking system was off the table.
“No option is off the table, in our view,” she said.
As of last week, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the U.S. intelligence community had not assessed whether Putin has made his mind up on invading Ukraine but nevertheless characterized the threat as high.
U.S. officials last week said they have evidence of Russia laying the groundwork for a false flag operation that could serve as a pretext for invading Ukraine.