'Things Could Go Crazy': Biden Asks Americans To Leave Ukraine

KYIV, Ukraine- Diplomat­ic efforts to resolve the Ukraine crisis remained at a stalemate Friday, prompting a stark warning from NATO that Eu­rope faces a “dangerous moment” as Russia kicks off a second day of major military exercises near Ukraine’s borders that analysts say could presage an invasion.

President Biden, in an interview on NBC’s “Nightly News,” urged U.S. citizens in Ukraine to “leave now,” adding that “things could go crazy, quickly,” given Russia’s military strength. Biden scheduled a call for Friday with his counter­parts in Canada, the U.K. and other NATO partners to further coordi­nate “diplomacy and deterrence,” the White House said Friday.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday during a visit to Australia that the West continues to see “troubling signs of Russian escalation, including new forces arriving at the Ukrainian border.”

“As we’ve said before, we’re in a window when an invasion could begin at any time, and to be clear, that includes during the Olym­pics,” Blinken said. He referred to speculation among some officials that Russian President Vladimir Putin may wait for the conclusion of the Olympic Games in Beijing to avoid angering China, its key partner. The exercises are sched­uled to end on Feb. 20, the same day as the games conclude.

Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s for­eign affairs minister, invoked dip­lomatic agreements to ask Russia for detailed information about its exercises, including precise locations, numbers of troops and dates of completed activity. Rus­sia has 48 hours to comply, Kuleba said. Failing that could escalate to emergency meetings within the Organization for Security and Co­operation in Europe, experts said.

Biden’s remarks were aired af­ter a tense encounter Thursday between British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and her Russian coun­terpart, Sergei Lavrov, in Moscow. She warned that a renewed Rus­sian invasion of Ukraine would lead to “severe consequences,” while Lavrov characterized their meeting as a conversation be­tween the “deaf and the dumb.”

In Berlin, negotiators repre­senting Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany failed to come to an agreement after nine hours of dis­cussions seeking a resolution to a long-running conflict between Kyiv and Moscow-backed sepa­ratists in Ukraine’s contested east. There were no immediate plans for another round of the “Nor­mandy format” talks, although Ukraine’s envoy said he hoped negotiations would continue.

Britain’s diplomatic efforts were further stymied Friday fol­lowing a meeting in Moscow between Russia Defense Minis­ter Sergei Shoigu and his British counterpart, Ben Wallace. The meeting came after Wallace an­nounced that 350 British Royal Marines would soon be deployed to Poland in a gesture of solidarity.

“Unfortunately, the level of our cooperation is close to zero and about to cross the zero meridian and go into negative, which is undesirable,” Shoigu said, Agence France-Presse reported, citing Russian news agencies. He blast­ed Ukraine’s partners for “gorg­ing” the country with weapons, a reference to the United States supplying antitank weapons, and to other NATO allies, such as Lithuania, spiriting antiaircraft launchers into Ukraine.   (Washington Post)

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