US preparing for mass exodus of refugees
Washington is bracing itself for an exodus of refugees fleeing Ukraine in the event of a Russian incursion, the White House has announced as tensions remain high in Eastern Europe.
Speaking at a briefing on Tuesday, President Joe Biden’s spokeswoman Jen Psaki touched on preparations that American officials are making in case Moscow’s armed forces stage an incursion into its neighbor.
“We certainly prepare for a range of contingencies, and work and engage with our European partners and counterparts to prepare for them,” she explained. “And that relates to the potential for refugees; it relates to the potential for natural gas or oil shortages.”
However, she refused to delve deeper into “intelligence assessments” cited by the Washington Post last weekend, which alleged that a Russian invasion could result in millions of people becoming displaced and leave thousands of civilians dead.
According to the outlet, US officials had briefed lawmakers and European partners on new estimates claiming that Russia had amassed more forces near the border with Ukraine and could soon launch an attack that would reach Kiev in just two days, killing 50,000 people and causing up to five million refugees to run from the turmoil.
Commenting on Washington’s hasty evacuations from Afghanistan last summer, Psaki insisted that “it’s really important to separate the two. Because, first, we are not in a 20-year war with US troops in Ukraine. That’s a very different circumstance.”
“The situation on the border of Ukraine with Russian troops building up is not the same as ending a 20-year war,” she elaborated. “That is something the president had talked about for some time, where we were spending an enormous amount of not just money but blood of American service members… over the course of decades.”
On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the White House had approved a plan from the Pentagon for US troops stationed in Poland to help thousands of Americans depart from Ukraine if Moscow orders an offensive. According to the outlet, around 30,000 US citizens are in the former Soviet republic.
Western leaders have been warning for months that Russia could be planning an invasion of Ukraine, an accusation that Moscow has consistently denied. The Kremlin has insisted that the movement of its troops in its own territory is an internal matter and of no concern to any other state.