William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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HOW CLOSE ARE WE? – OVERNIGHT:  The statements about Ukraine are grim, very grim.  We are on the brink of war.  Americans are being evacuated.  It is 1939.  We can't independently confirm that the dire talk is accurate.  But we can confirm that it is being taken seriously.  A recent briefing of members of Congress by the State Department left the listeners shaken.  The president has a phone talk scheduled with Putin.  We don't even know if it's last-minute negotiating, or stagecraft.  From AP: 

WASHINGTON — The United States is set to evacuate its embassy in Kyiv as Western intelligence officials warn that a Russian invasion of Ukraine is increasingly imminent.

US officials say the State Department plans to announce early Saturday that all American staff at the Kyiv embassy will be required to leave the country ahead of a feared Russian invasion. The State Department would not comment.

The department had earlier ordered families of US embassy staffers in Kyiv to leave. But it had left it to the discretion of nonessential personnel if they wanted to depart. The new move comes as Washington has ratcheted up its warnings about a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said a limited number of U.S. diplomats may be relocated to Ukraine’s far west, near the border with Poland, a NATO ally, so the US could retain a diplomatic presence in the country.

The Pentagon announced Friday it is sending another 3,000 combat troops to Poland to join 1,700 who already are assembling there in a demonstration of American commitment to NATO allies worried at the prospect of Russia invading Ukraine.

The additional soldiers will depart their post at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, over the next couple days and should be in Poland by early next week, according to a defense official, who provided the information under ground rules set by the Pentagon. They are the remaining elements of an infantry brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division.

Their mission will be to train and provide deterrence but not to engage in combat in Ukraine.

That announcement came shortly after Jake Sullivan, President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, issued a public warning for all American citizens in Ukraine to leave the country as soon as possible. Sullivan said Russian President Vladimir Putin could give the order to launch an invasion of Ukraine any day now.

COMMENT:   There are informed observers who doubt that Russia will invade.  After all, the cost to Moscow in human lives and potential sanctions could be enormous.

On the other hand, there are some who believe that Russia has nothing to lose by invading – that the United States is too weak to impose a heavy sanctions regime, that allies won't join us for fear of antagonizing Moscow, and that the American people will never permit our troops to be used in combat.  A win-win-win for Putin. 

I have no independent information.  It's wait-and-see, with human life on the line.

February 11,  2022