Biden warns Putin U.S. will

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President Joe Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin Saturday that the United States will “respond decisively and impose swift and severe costs” should Russia invade Ukraine. The warning comes as U.S. officials say a Russian invasion could begin “at any time.”

With an escalated Russian military buildup on the borders of Ukraine, Mr. Biden emphasized on a phone call with Putin that an invasion “would produce widespread human suffering and diminish Russia’s standing.”

“President Biden was clear with President Putin that while the United States remains prepared to engage in diplomacy, in full coordination with our Allies and partners, we are equally prepared for other scenarios,” the White House said Saturday. 

The Biden administration has urged American citizens to leave Ukraine and on Saturday, the U.S. Department of State ordered non-emergency employees at the U.S. embassy in Kyiv to leave the country. 

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“Today, the [State Department] ordered non-emergency U.S. employees at the Embassy to depart due to continued reports of a Russian military build-up on the border with Ukraine, indicating potential for significant military action,” the embassy tweeted early Saturday morning. 

Thousands of American troops have been ordered to Poland, where they are expected to be in place by early next week to join 2,000 troops already stationed throughout the region, according to a senior defense official. 

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters Friday that the U.S. is firmly convinced that Russia is looking hard at the creation of a false-flag operation to justify an invasion, “something that they generate and try to blame on the Ukrainians as a trigger for military action.” Sullivan said that any subsequent attack would likely begin with “aerial bombing and missile attacks” ahead of “the onslaught of a massive force.” 

Russian forces are already positioned to send troops pouring across Ukraine’s northern border with Belarus and launch a maritime assault from the Black Sea. Moscow is also capable of sending troops over Ukraine’s eastern border. 

U.S. officials have said Russia already has intelligence operatives on the ground that could create a pretext for an invasion by assisting in creating a false flag. Last month, U.S. officials said this could involve Russian operatives “trained in urban warfare and in using explosives to carry out acts of sabotage against Russia’s own proxy forces.” 

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Margaret Brennan contributed to this report.

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