The State Department has ordered all but a “core team” to leave its embassy in Ukraine, the New York Times reports. The State Department is also telling US citizens to leave Ukraine immediately. The moves come as US officials warn that Russian President Vladimir Putin could order an invasion of Ukraine “at any time.”
Putin and President Joe Biden began talks on Saturday as part of an effort to avert a Russian invasion. Initially, US officials suggested that Putin would wait until the Olympics ended next week before attacking Ukraine to avoid antagonizing China, a key ally. They are now saying that an attack could happen during the Olympics.
BREAKING: Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin have begun their closely watched call on Ukraine as the U.S. warns that a Russian invasion of its neighbor may be imminent. https://t.co/4LEiDluI3z
— The Associated Press (@AP) February 12, 2022
Putin has denied that he plans to attack Ukraine, while also amassing more than 100,000 troops along the Russia-Ukraine border. Russian officials have accused American officials of waging a “large-scale disinformation campaign” about their alleged plans to attack Ukraine.
If US officials are misreading Russia’s strategy, it wouldn’t be the first major intelligence failure in recent history. Shoddy intelligence reports led to a catastrophic invasion of Iraq that led to hundreds of thousands deaths, as well as the rise of ISIS. Last year, US intelligence officials failed to predict the imminent collapse of Afghanistan’s government. That has led to tens of thousands of Afghanis being stranded after helping the United States over the course of a two-decade war.