Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday evening that he believes Russia is on the precipice of entering Ukraine in a “major aggression” and could cross the border before the night is over.
“Unfortunately, Russia has positioned its forces at the final point of readiness across Ukraine’s borders, to the north, to the east, to the south. Everything seems to be in place for Russia to engage in a major aggression against Ukraine,” Blinken told NBC’s Lester Holt. “I can’t put a date or an exact time on it, but everything is in place for Russia to move forward.”
His comments were undergirded Wednesday by Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby, who said Russia was “ready to go” and could “attack at any time … with a significant military force.”
Blinken said the Biden administration was still prepared to turn toward diplomacy, but warned that the U.S. — alongside its European allies — was prepared to hit Russia with even more sanctions and make the nation pay for its decision for a “long, long time.”
“I think there’s still an opportunity to avert a major aggression. Yesterday, when they began this invasion of Ukraine, we hit them hard, not just us, but in unison with Europe, going against major financial institutions, taking out a major project, the so-called Nord Stream 2,” Blinken said. “We’ve said very clearly that if Russia continues to escalate, so will we.”
He added: “At the end of the day, if that doesn’t’ stop President Putin, we’ve made very clear … that there will be massive consequence going forward, a price that Russia will have to pay for a long, long time.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a direct appeal to Russia on Thursday morning in Kyiv, saying his nation wanted peace and was “doing everything it can to build it.”