The Kiev Express is ramping up as it becomes more evident to the West that Russia is poised to launch an invasion of Ukraine at any moment. Diplomats and other politicians from NATO countries continue to arrive in Ukraine for discussions with the Zelensky government, tours of Ukrainian defensive positions in the east and firm warnings to Vladimir Putin. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will be in Ukraine tomorrow before doubling back to Berlin for discussions with his German counterpart. Then on Friday, Blinken will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva. Friday’s meeting seems to be an eleventh-hour encounter that will be the last opportunity for a diplomatic resolution to the crisis. Blinken will feel Lavrov out to determine how much, if any, Russian interest there is in a diplomatic approach to deescalating the situation. Last week’s talks were aimed at finding that approach but ended in failure. Thus far, Russia has been insistent that a drawdown of its forces poised along the Ukrainian border needs to be tied to NATO accepting its security demands. The alliance has been insistent that it will do no such thing.
The White House has changed its language and tone regarding Ukraine and Russia. Earlier today, the White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters the US believes Russia is prepared to launch military operations against Ukraine at any time. An alarming statement given the more reserved public demeanor of the administration with regards to Ukraine and Russia recently. Last week, US officials raised concern about the possibility of a Russian operation to manufacture an incident which Moscow could use as a justification for military action. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan then stated that US intelligence was uncertain if Vladimir Putin had made a final decision on invading Ukraine. The new tone of voice from the White House this afternoon indicates the US intelligence assessment might’ve changed.