Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned Monday afternoon that Ukrainian intelligence is predicting Russia could invade by Wednesday. While Zelensky’s warnings amid months of anticipation about a Russian invasion, the closure of the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv and the reported satellite images of Russian troops moving into attack positions are further indications that Russia has come to a decision to invade.
In a statement Monday afternoon, Zelensky said, “We are told that February 16 will be the day of attack. We will make it a union day. The decree has already been signed. This afternoon we will hang national flags, put on blue-yellow ribbons and show the world our unity.”
On Monday, about half an hour after Zelensky’s statement, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the U.S. Embassy in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv will temporarily close and relocate operations to the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, further from Ukraine’s border with Russia. Blinken said the decision was made “due to the dramatic acceleration in the buildup of Russian forces.”
A U.S. official who spoke to CBS News on Monday said Russian troops have also left their assembly areas near the Ukrainian border and have moved into “attack positions.” Russian long-range artillery and rocket launchers have also moved into likely firing positions, according to the official.
During a Monday press briefing, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby did not deny the reported satellite images of Russian troop movements and said he would not comment on the intelligence the U.S. has.
Kirby told reporters that Putin “continues to advance his readiness” and “is doing all the things you would expect one to do if one was planning a major military action.”
“We still don’t believe that some final decision has been made,” Kirby added, but cautioned Putin “could move with little to no warning.”
Last week, the Biden administration said a Russian invasion of Ukraine could come at any point, including during the winter Olympics, which conclude on Feb. 20
On Monday, CBS National Security Correspondent David Martin noted about 30 Russian warships have begun live-fire naval drills in the Black Sea. “If you plot the coordinates of those exercises, you will see that those exercises cover virtually the entire southern coast of Ukraine.”
Last week, six Russian amphibious landing ships and an attack submarine sailed into the Black Sea, joining other Russian naval forces in the area. The landing ships could potentially carry around 2,000 Russian troops and dozens of armored vehicles to Ukraine’s shores in an amphibious assault.
The U.S. has been shipping weapons to Ukraine in recent weeks, including Javelin anti-tank missiles. In the first three shipments, the U.S. sent around 260 tons of weapons to Ukraine. In an additional three shipments over the, the U.S. has delivered an additional 245 tons of weapons, bringing the total weight of U.S. weapons sent to Ukraine to about 500 tons.
The United Kingdom, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have also begun shipping weapons, including Javelins and anti-aircraft missile launchers to Ukraine.