US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said late Wednesday that he believes Russia could launch an invasion of Ukraine before the night is over.
Asked whether he has a "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."
"Russia has positioned its forces at the final point of readiness across Ukraine's borders to the north, to the east, to the south," he told NBC News. "Everything seems to be in place for Russia to engage in a major aggression against Ukraine.”
When Blinken was again asked if he thinks it could happen tonight or if it will happen, he went on: "I can’t put a date or an exact time on it, but everything is in place for Russia to move forward.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Monday that Moscow was recognizing the two eastern Ukrainian breakaway regions of Luhansk and Donetsk as “independent” states, followed quickly by sending forces to “maintain peace” there.
The announcement drew widespread global condemnation as violations of the UN Charter and international law, with Western countries announcing new sanctions on Russia.
In 2014, after invading Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, Moscow began to support separatist forces in eastern Ukraine against the central government, a policy that it has maintained since then. The conflict has taken more than 13,000 lives, according to the UN.
Putin's latest moves follow Russia’s amassing of 100,000 troops and heavy equipment in and around its neighbor, with the US and other Western countries accusing it of setting the stage for an invasion.
Russia has denied that it is preparing an invasion and instead claims that the West has undermined its security through NATO’s expansion toward its borders.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.