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The Biden administration is dispatching U.S. military and special operations, tactical teams, to the American Embassy in Ukraine after Moscow warned that a “countdown” is now underway as tens of thousands of Russian troops remain deployed around the eastern European country’s perimeter.
The special operations teams, which were “quietly” sent to Kyiv over the past few days, came after Secretary of State Antony Blinken rebuffed Ukrainian pleas for the U.S. to impose hefty sanctions on Russia for its perceived aggression.
Just the News reported:
The teams arrived last week, shortly before U.S. Embassy families were ordered to begin evacuating Ukraine, said the sources, who have direct knowledge of the events.
“This means that they’re anticipating violence or complete deterioration in short order,” said former Diplomatic Security Service Special Agent Dale McElhattan, who has taken part in diplomatic evacuations.
International tension has spiked recently as Russia maintains an estimated 100,000 troops along its border with Ukraine and has issued ominous statements about “the start of a countdown” and claims that Moscow is being “provoked.”
Russia has not said why a “countdown” has been implemented or what actions await at the end of the countdown, but Moscow has said any attempt at admitting Ukraine into NATO — which isn’t likely, according to reports — would be intolerable.
Western governments became alarmed last week when Konstantin Gavrilov, who led a Russian delegation to the Vienna Negotiations on Military Security and Arms Control, issued what seemed like a dire warning.
“There arrives a moment of truth when the West either accepts our proposals or other ways will be found to safeguard Russia’s security,” Gavrilov said, according to the Tass news agency. “I am convinced that with goodwill and a willingness to compromise in any situation, it is possible to find a way out to mutually acceptable solutions. We are running out of time. The countdown begins.”
Neither Gavrilov nor officials with the Russian Foreign Ministry have since explained what his comments may have meant or what they indicate.
Ukrainian officials, meanwhile, have pressed the Biden administration to impose sanctions on Russia before any attack as a means of deterring aggression, but the White House has refused.
“When it comes to sanctions, the purpose of those sanctions is to deter Russian aggression,” Blinken told CNN’s State of the Union program.
“So if they’re triggered now, you lose the deterrent effect,” Blinken said. “All of the things that we’re doing, including building up in a united way with Europe, massive consequences for Russia, is designed to factor into President [Vladimir] Putin’s calculus and to deter and dissuade them from taking aggressive action, even as we pursue diplomacy at the same time.”
But last week following Gavrilov’s remarks, the State Department ordered families of embassy personnel and other non-essential staffers out of Ukraine.
And over the weekend, President Biden himself was blasted on social media after the State Dept. announced it could not guarantee evacuation for U.S. citizens who have decided to remain in the country.
“Given that the President has said military action by Russia could come at any time, the U.S. government will not be in a position to evacuate U.S. citizens.” the State Department said, according to Fox News correspondent Jennifer Griffin. “So U.S. citizens, currently present in Ukraine should plan accordingly.
“We’ve authorized the departure of some US government employees, but we have ordered the departure of all family members of US government employees at our Embassy in Kyiv. The State Department has also elevated our travel advisory for Ukraine to level four,” the department added.
“Probably he’ll get everyone out. I mean, it’s not like there are still Americans stuck in Afghanistan or something,” Daily Wire co-founder Ben Shapiro wrote.
Monica Crowley, former Trump official and Fox News personality, added: “Biden/Harris still cool with abandoning Americans in war zones.”