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Tipsheet

Blinken Warns 'Everything is in Place for Russia to Move Forward' Against Ukraine

AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool

In a Wednesday interview with NBC's Lester Holt, Secretary of State Antony Blinken repeated a warning that the Biden administration has been issuing for weeks now. This time there may be some more teeth to it, though, as a Russian invasion of Ukraine seems more likely now than ever. 

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Holt had asked the secretary "do you have reason to believe that before this night is over, Russian forces will be engaged in something akin to a full invasion of Ukraine?" Blinken responded "I do," as he explained that "unfortunately Russia has positioned its forces at the final point of readiness across Ukraine's borders." This includes "to the north, to the east, to the south" with Blinken adding that "everything seems to be in place for Russia to engage in a major aggression against Ukraine."

When prompted on the timeline, Blinken did clarify, while emphasizing his warning. "Look, I can't put a date or an exact time on it, but everything is in place for Russia to move forward," the secretary told Holt.

The segment caused some to misinterpret Blinken's warnings though, as Reuters' Phil Stewart may have jumped the gun.

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Some even mocked Stewart by engaging in a discussion in the replies about how to cook a steak.

Blinken's warnings this time may come to fruition sooner rather than later, though. Putin is an unpredictable figure.

The secretary made similar comments while appearing on other evening news programs. 

While Blinken told ABC's David Muir that "I can't give you light on specific numbers," what he could share was that "everything we’ve seen over the last 24 to 48 hours has Russia putting the final touches on having its forces in place across all of Ukraine’s borders – to the north, to the east, to the south – to be ready for a full-on invasion."

In an interview with CBS' Norah O’Donnell, who asked if the looming invasion was "a failure of American diplomacy," Blinken claimed it was not, but rather spoke of diplomatic success. "To the contrary – first of all, diplomacy succeeded very effectively in bringing the world together, the United States and Europe together, in standing up to Russian aggression," he said. 

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Blinken also believes there's still a chance Putin will heed warnings that the Biden administration sees as a deterrent. "At the same time, we’ve made it clear that if Russia continues to escalate, if it engages in a full-scale invasion of Ukraine beyond what it’s already doing, we’ll escalate too.  And I hope that that knowledge may still act as a deterrent, but if it doesn’t we’ve been clear that Russia will face massive consequences for its actions – and it will," he continued. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned in a Facebook live address early on Thursday local time that the trigger for a Russian invasion can happen at "any minute." In previous weeks, before the situation had escalated to such a point, Zelensky had gone with a more toned down rhetoric than the United States about the threat of an invasion. 

Other actions have been taken against Ukraine, with Madeline reporting earlier on Wednesday that Ukraine was reportedly hit with cyber attacks. There has also been activity when it comes to Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, known as the so-called leaders of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic. 

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The United Nations Security Council will on Wednesday night conduct an emergency meeting to discuss the situation, at the request of Ukraine, a CNN live update indicated. Biden also on Wednesday took action to finally impose sanctions to do with the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Zelensky have been calling on for some time now. 

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