Biden tells Americans in Ukraine to 'leave now' as possible Russian invasion looms

Is a Russian invasion of Ukraine really ‘imminent’?

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby addresses Russia ramping up its military readiness around Ukraine on ‘The Story.’

President Biden warned Americans who remain in Ukraine that they should get out of the country amid growing tensions along the border there as Russian President Vladimir Putin weighs whether to invade.

“American citizens should leave now,” Biden told NBC News’ Lester Holt in a pre-taped interview that ran Thursday evening.

President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting on efforts to lower prices for working families, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Jan. 24, 2022.
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

“It’s not like we’re dealing with a terrorist organization,” Biden said. “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 also said there is no scenario in which he would send troops to rescue Americans in Ukraine trying to flee the country. “There’s not. That’s a world war when Americans and Russia start shooting at one another,” Biden said. “We’re in a very different world than we’ve ever been.”

U.S. President Joe Biden, Russian President Vladimir Putin
(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images  |  Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)

Biden also concluded that if Putin is “foolish enough to go in, he’s smart enough not to, in fact, do anything that would negatively impact on American citizens.”

“Have you ever told him that?” Holt inquired.

“Yes,” Biden responded.

“You’ve told him that, that Americans will be a line that they can’t cross?” Holt asked.

“I didn’t have to tell him that, I’ve spoken about that,” Biden said. “He knows that.”

Members of Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces, volunteer military units of the Armed Forces, train in a city park in Kyiv, Ukraine.
(AP/Efrem Lukatsky)

On Thursday, the State Department issued a level 4 travel advisory for Ukraine, telling Americans who remain in the country to “depart now.”

“Do not travel to Ukraine due to the increased threats of Russian military action and COVID-19; those in Ukraine should depart now via commercial or private means,” the advisory stated. “If remaining in Ukraine, exercise increased caution due to crime, civil unrest, and potential combat operations should Russia take military action. Some areas have increased risk.”

Biden also discussed his upcoming selection of a nominee to the Supreme Court, claiming he is not seeking an “ideological” justice. He insisted that he wants someone of the same “capacity” as outgoing Justice Stephen Breyer for a replacement.

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