MOSCOW, Russia (AFP) – On Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet with his American and French colleagues after the US warned that Moscow may attack Ukraine in days.
On Friday, the US issued a dire warning over Ukraine, claiming that a Russian invasion with people trapped in aerial bombing may begin in days and advising US citizens to escape within 48 hours.
On Saturday, Putin will meet with Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron in a diplomatic frenzy to avert an invasion.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he’ll meet with his Russian colleague Sergei Lavrov on the same day, calling it “a key point” in the situation and said his country is “prepared for whatever happens.”
At a news conference in Fiji, Blinken stated, “We continue to observe extremely disturbing indicators of Russian escalation, including fresh military coming near Ukraine’s borders.”
“We’re prepared to do that if Russia is really interested in resolving this issue of its own manufacture via diplomacy and engagement,” he added.
Even when the Beijing Olympics were still going on, the White House had warned of an attack by the more than 100,000 Russian forces stationed near Ukraine.
Dialogue would only be feasible if it was preceded by “de-escalation,” according to Blinken.
“We’ve only seen escalation from Moscow so far,” he added, adding that Russia had yet to reply to “some of the concepts” proposed by the US. “I’ll ask Mr. Lavrov whether we can expect a response in the next days to see if we can continue the conversation.”
Blinken declined to clarify whether the US embassy in Kyiv will be evacuated, saying, “We’ll have more to say about that in the coming hours.”
On Friday, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan urged Americans to leave Ukraine immediately, saying that a Russian strike would “certainly start with aerial bombardment and missile attacks that may clearly kill people.”
While Sullivan stressed that it was too early to tell if Putin had made a choice, adding that “we can’t forecast the exact determination,” the US was ready for the worst, including a “rapid attack” on Kyiv’s capital.
President Joe Biden and six European leaders, as well as the presidents of NATO and the European Union, met with Sullivan shortly after to discuss the biggest crisis between the West and Russia since the end of the Cold War.
Biden will speak with Putin on Saturday, according to a US source, and Macron will phone Putin on the same day, according to a French official.
A slew of nations have joined the evacuation of ambassadors and residents from Ukraine, highlighting the grim outlook, while oil prices have risen and US stocks have fallen.