Secretary of State warns UN Security Council: Russia on 'path to war'

"The stakes go far beyond Ukraine," he said, adding that the "crisis directly affects every member of this council and every country in the world."

Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned the United Nations Security Council on Thursday that Russia is on the "path to war" as the early stages of an invasion into Ukraine are "unfolding."

The Kremlin claimed earlier this week that it was sending troops back to their home bases, but U.S. officials say that Russia actually deployed 7,000 more troops as 150,000 are estimated to be there. 

"The most immediate threat to peace and security is Russia’s looming aggression against Ukraine," Blinken told the Security Council at the UN headquarters in New York City. 

"The stakes go far beyond Ukraine," he said, adding that the "crisis directly affects every member of this council and every country in the world."

Russian state media accused Ukraine of violating a ceasefire early Thursday morning. The Ukrainian government says as of Thursday evening it has recorded nearly 50 violations of the ceasefire by Russian troops, who fired first.

"We don’t know precisely how things will play out, but here’s what the world can expect to see unfold. In fact, it’s unfolding right now, today, as Russia takes steps down the path to war and reissued the threat of military action," Blinken said.

The Pentagon said earlier this month that Russia may be planning a false flag operation, which Blinken elaborated upon during the meeting.

"First, Russia plans to manufacture a pretext for its attack. This could be a violent event that Russia will blame on Ukraine or an outrageous accusation that Russia will level against the Ukrainian government," he said. "It could be a fabricated so-called terrorist inside Russia, the invented discovery of a mass grave, a staged drone strike against civilians, or a fake, even a real, attack using chemical weapons."

"Russia may describe this event as ethnic cleansing or a genocide, making a mockery of a concept that we in this chamber do not take lightly, nor do I take lightly, based on my family history," said Blinken, whose family survived the Holocaust.

The Russian government has been mocking the rumors of an incursion on Twitter, and accusing the United States and its allies of increasing tensions in the region.

Blinken admitted that some have questioned what evidence supports the idea that a false flag operation may occur.

"But let me be clear: I am here today, not to start a war, but to prevent one," he stressed. "The information I’ve presented here is validated by what we’ve seen unfolding in plain sight before our eyes for months."

Russia and the United States are two of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, so Blinken called directly on the Kremlin to state that it will not invade Ukraine.

"So let me make this simple. The Russian Government can announce today – with no qualification, equivocation, or deflection – that Russia will not invade Ukraine," he said. "State it clearly.  State it plainly to the world.  And then demonstrate it by sending your troops, your tanks, your planes back to their barracks and hangars and sending your diplomats to the negotiating table."