U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday (local time) warned U.S. citizens in Ukraine to leave the country immediately, saying, “That’s a world war when Americans and Russia start shooting at one another.” With mediation efforts by Germany and France not seeing any results, Russia conducted large-scale military drills in Belarus.
“Things could go crazy quickly,” President Biden said during an interview with NBC News. “When Americans and Russians start shooting at one another, we’re in a very different world than we’ve ever been in.” When asked if he has an evacuation scenario for U.S. citizens in the event of Russian military action, President Biden said no. It was the strongest statement President Biden has made regarding the Ukraine crisis. The U.S. State Department on the same day issued the highest Level 4 Travel Advisory for Ukraine and warned that Russia’s military action could take place at any time without warning and the situation could worsen in a short time.
At the Belarus border with Ukraine, Russia conducted a large-scale military exercise with 30,000 Russian troops, SU-35 fighter jets and advanced nuclear-capable Iskander ballistic missiles.
The U.S. and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) believe that Russia can use the exercise as an opportunity to invade Ukraine. The New York Times reported on Thursday that Russia intensified military activity north, east and south of Ukraine according to satellite images collected. A U.S. intelligence report reportedly said Russia could invade Ukraine through nine routes and could reach the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv within 48 hours.