National security adviser Jake Sullivan warned Friday that Russia could invade Ukraine at any time.
“Any American in Ukraine should leave as soon as possible, and in any event in the next 24 to 48 hours,” Sullivan said during a press briefing at the White House.
Those remarks echoed President Joe Biden’s own warning Thursday for U.S. citizens in Ukraine to “leave now.”
“We can’t pinpoint the day, at this point, and we can’t pinpoint the hour, but what we can say is that there is a credible prospect that a Russian military action would take place even before the end of the Olympics,” Sullivan said during the briefing.
A White House official said that Biden is scheduled to hold a one-on-one call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday.
The White House’s warning comes amid months of increased tensions between Russia and Ukraine. The latter has deployed some 100,000 troops along its border with Ukraine. A U.S. government assessment found that Russia has assembled about 70% of the military personnel and weapons it needs to launch a full-scale invasion.
Biden warned Thursday that any Americans in Ukraine should leave, and the U.S. State Department issued a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” advisory for Ukraine, citing the threats.
“It’s not like we’re dealing with a terrorist organization. We’re dealing with one of the largest armies in the world. It’s a very different situation and things could go crazy quickly,” Biden said in an NBC News interview.
Russia has spent months building up its military presence at various points along the Ukrainian border. More than 100,000 Russian troops are currently stationed there.
If it occurs, an invasion was previously expected to come after the close of the Winter Olympics in Beijing to avoid a conflict with China, Russia’s ally.
But Sullivan on Friday stressed that an attack “could begin during the Olympics, despite a lot of speculation” that it would not.
Last week, administration officials announced that the U.S. was deploying about 3,000 troops to help defend European allies.
The troops being sent to the region are not meant to engage with Russia, but to provide defensive aid to NATO allies.