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Tipsheet

'An Invasion Could Begin at Any Time': White House Urges Americans to Flee Ukraine

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan issued a stern warning to Americans in Ukraine during Friday's White House press briefing but cast doubt on reports that Putin had definitively decided to invade Ukraine following President Biden's virtual meeting with leaders from France, Germany, Italy, Poland, UK, Canada, EU, and NATO.

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While Sullivan refused to comment on unconfirmed reports that Putin had communicated to the Russian military his decision to invade Ukraine, Sullivan did say that a Russian invasion is a "distinct possibility" and "could" take place while the Beijing Olympics are still going on "despite reports" that Putin would wait until after the Winter Games.

Echoing similar warnings from the United Kingdom and European Union, Sullivan urged "any Americans in Ukraine" to "leave as soon as possible... the next 24 to 48 hours" because "the risk is now high enough and the threat is now immediate enough." More ominously, Sullivan told U.S. citizens "if you stay, you are assuming risk with no guarantee that there will be any other opportunity to leave" and there is "no prospect of a U.S. military evacuation" to retrieve Americans. 

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Sullivan warned of aerial bombing and missile attacks as well as a "rapid assault on the city of Kyiv" or in other areas of the country in addition to a ground invasion that would involve the "onslaught of a massive force."

Sullivan also repeated earlier Biden administration claims that Russia may attempt to use a false flag operation as pretext for its invasion, an assertion that saw Biden spokespeople malign journalists for requesting additional evidence to back up the administration's claims. 

When pressed again for more evidence or information backing up the Biden administration's statements on Russia's plans, Sullivan told reporters that they can "believe their own eyes."

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Sullivan also said to "expect" President Biden to call Vladimir Putin soon, and insisted the administration is "trying to stop a war" that other unconfirmed reports say the United States anticipates to be "a horrific, bloody campaign."

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