By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
WASHINGTON/MOSCOW/BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – U.S. President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin were to speak Saturday to prevent a war that Washington fears could ignite any moment.
Putin requested the telephone call between the leaders for Monday, a White House official said, but Biden wanted to conduct it sooner as the Russian military buildup continued.
Their talks came after Americans were told to leave Ukraine within 48 hours amid concerns of an imminent Russian invasion.
The U.S. embassy evacuation in Kyiv was already underway Saturday, Worthy News learned. And, the U.S. State Department warned Americans that most consular services would be suspended.
Staffers were leaving after Vice-Admiral Nils Andreas Stensønes, the head of the Norwegian intelligence service said Russia now had 150,000 troops massed around Ukraine.
The vice-admiral explained that the decision to attack rested with Russian President Putin. Washington warned on Friday of the “very distinct possibility” of a Russian invasion of Ukraine in the next few days.
A U.S. security source told Worthy News earlier that an invasion was expected this month around the Winter Olympics.
Besides the U.S., Australia and New Zealand became the latest countries to urge their citizens to leave Ukraine as soon as possible. They joined Britain, Japan, Latvia, Norway, and the Netherlands. Israel said it was evacuating relatives of embassy staff.
Diplomatic sources say the U.S. president has told allied leaders in a call that the Russian leader had decided to go ahead with an invasion.
But Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, said: “We have not seen anything come to us that says a final decision has been taken, [that] the go order has been given.
Russia says it has “no intentions” to invade, though the choice of words has done little to convince skeptics.
Moscow demands guarantees from the West, including a promise of no missile deployments near its borders. It also wants no NATO membership for Ukraine and a reduction of the military alliance’s infrastructure.
The U.S. and its allies have so far rejected these demands. Yet, Washington suggested there was still space for de-escalation. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the standoff a “pivotal moment” and said he would speak to Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Saturday.
“If Russia is genuinely interested in resolving this crisis of its own making through diplomacy and dialogue, we’re prepared to do that,” he explained. “But it must take place in the context of de-escalation. So far, we’ve only seen escalation from Moscow,” he said.
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