Administration says Russia could launch attack on Ukraine 'at any point,' as Putin thins out embassy

Secretary of State Antony Blinken heads to Europe this week to attempt to quell the escalating tensions

Updated: January 18, 2022 - 3:20pm

As reports roll in that Russia has been thinning out its presence at its embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, the Biden White House is warning that it believes Russia could carry out an attack on Ukraine "at any point."

In early January, more than a dozen people – primarily the wives and children of Russian diplomats – were sent back to Moscow from the Ukrainian capital. About  30 more followed in the next few days.

"Our view is this is an extremely dangerous situation. We're now at a stage where Russia could at any point launch an attack in Ukraine," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is scheduled to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday as the U.S. continues to deescalate tensions between Russia and Ukraine. Though, diplomatic talks last week between Russian officials and NATO seemingly did not encourage Russia to dial back its 100,000 troop presence on Ukraine's border.

The dispute is essentially Russia's opposition to Ukraine's bid to join NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Psaki, on Tuesday, reiterated the U.S. position that there would be significant economic consequences if Russia opts to invade Ukraine.

"It is up to the Russians to determine which path they are going to take, and the consequences are going to be severe if they don’t take the diplomatic path," she said. "No option is off the table, in our view."

The press secretary's comments arrive alongside a report that the U.S. is preparing financial sanctions on pro-Russian agents in Ukraine.