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White House warns Russia could invade Ukraine during Olympics

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National security adviser Jake Sullivan responds to questions from the news media during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Friday. Photo by Shawn Thew/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/6ec32e3d601990c99e8b8ae311f631d6/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
National security adviser Jake Sullivan responds to questions from the news media during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Friday. Photo by Shawn Thew/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 11 (UPI) -- National security adviser Jake Sullivan warned Friday that Russia could launch an invasion of Ukraine at any time, even while the Olympics are going on in Beijing.

He reiterated President Joe Biden's advice from earlier this week suggesting all Americans leave Ukraine ahead of any possible violence.

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"We can't pinpoint the day, at this point, and we can't pinpoint the hour, but what we can say is that there is a credible prospect that a Russian military action would take place even before the end of the Olympics," Sullivan said during a press briefing at the White House.

The White House's warning comes amid months of increased tensions between Russia and Ukraine. The latter has deployed some 100,000 troops along its border with Ukraine. A U.S. government assessment found that Russia has assembled about 70% of the military personnel and weapons it needs to launch a full-scale invasion.

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Biden warned Thursday that any Americans in Ukraine should leave, and the U.S. State Department issued a "Level 4: Do Not Travel" advisory for Ukraine, citing the threats.

"It's not like we're dealing with a terrorist organization. We're dealing with one of the largest armies in the world. It's a very different situation and things could go crazy quickly," Biden said in an NBC News interview.

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Sullivan said Americans should leave in the next 24 to 48 hours.

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"The risk is now high enough, and the threat is now immediate enough that this is what prudence demands," he said.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken also warned of an imminent invasion during remarks in Melbourne, Australia, on Friday.

"As we said before, we're in a window when an invasion could begin at any time. To be clear, that includes during the Olympics."

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The Olympics are scheduled to conclude in Beijing on Feb. 20 and experts believed Russia wouldn't launch an attack on Ukraine during the sporting events.

Sullivan said that if Russia does invade, it would likely begin with aerial bombing and missile attacks that could kill civilians.

"A subsequent ground invasion would involve the onslaught of a massive force with virtually no notice, communications to arrange a departure could be severed and commercial transit halted."

The United States and its NATO allies have warned Russia against invading Ukraine, threatening to levy sanctions and other punishments against Moscow. Russia has said it condemns any attempts by Ukraine to join NATO and wants the military alliance to withdraw its deployment to its pre-1997 positions.

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Biden deployed about 3,000 U.S. troops to Eastern Europe in response to Russia's troop movement to Ukraine's border.

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