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White House says Russian invasion of Ukraine remains ‘imminent’

By Kevin Liptak, CNN

The White House says a Russian invasion of Ukraine is “imminent,” even as diplomatic efforts to defuse the crisis proceed.

“When we said it was imminent, it remains imminent,” press secretary Jen Psaki said during a daily briefing. “But again, we can’t make a prediction of what decision President Putin will make. We’re still engaged in diplomatic discussions and negotiations.”

Last week, President Joe Biden predicted during a news conference that Vladimir Putin would “move in” to Ukraine, though he also acknowledged no one truly knew the Russian leader’s intentions.

Psaki also said last week “we believe we’re now at a stage where Russia could at any point launch an attack on Ukraine.”

On Tuesday, she suggested such an attack was impending.

“Imminent has a pretty intense meaning,” she said, adding it was “correct” that nothing in the President’s assessments had changed since last week.

An administration official told CNN after the briefing that “there has been no change in where we have been since last week which is that Russia could invade at any time.”

Ukrainian officials have sought to downplay the likelihood of an invasion, but Psaki said that signals from Russia were clear, even if Putin’s intentions were not.

“No one can get into the mind of President Putin or Russian leadership. We all know that is the case. What we have seen is a range of preparations,” she said, citing the build-up of more than 100,000 troops at the Russia-Ukraine border, “bellicose rhetoric” and potential false flag operations.

She said displeasure from the Ukrainian government at the US decision to withdraw some embassy staff was misplaced.

“We’re always going to make decisions that are in the security interests of people who are serving as diplomats around the world, and we have assessments that are made by the State Department, hence the decision in the announcement made over the last couple of days,” she said.

“I will let others assess, but there are 100,000 Russian troops on the border of Ukraine and no clarity that the leader of Russia doesn’t intend to invade,” she said. “That sounds pretty dangerous to me.”

This is a breaking story and will be updated.

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CNN’s Natasha Bertrand contributed to this report.

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