US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday that a Russian invasion of Ukraine “could begin at any time” and the United States continues “to see very troubling signs of Russian escalation, including new forces arriving at the Ukrainian border.”
The top US diplomat made the comments alongside his counterparts from the Quad — Australia, India and Japan — following a day of meetings in Melbourne and after the State Department and President Joe Biden warned US citizens to depart Ukraine immediately.
“As we’ve said before, we’re in a window when an invasion could begin at any time — and to be clear that includes during the Olympics,” Blinken said.
“We’re continuing to draw down our embassy. We will continue that process. And we’ve also been very clear that any American citizens who remain in Ukraine should leave now,” he added.
Last month, the State Department authorized the departure of nonemergency personnel from the US Embassy in Kyiv and ordered family members to depart the country, and on Thursday it issued a new travel advisory for American citizens in Ukraine to “depart now via commercial or private means.”
Although Friday’s Quad discussions focused primarily on matters related to the Indo-Pacific region, Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine was discussed among the four foreign ministers.
The top US diplomat repeatedly noted that the crisis goes deeper than the physical threat posed by Russia to Ukraine and could undercut the international rules-based order that the Quad countries have vowed to uphold.
“What’s at stake is not simply, as important as it is, Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty, independence but very basic principles that have, in a hard-fought way after two World Wars and a Cold War, undergirded security, peace and prosperity for countries around the world — principles like one country can’t simply change the borders of another by force; principles like one country can’t simply dictate to another its choices, its policies, with who it will associate; principles like one country can’t exert a sphere of influence to subjugate its neighbors to its will,” Blinken said.