FRANKFURT—The Bible warns of “wars and rumors of war” in the last days.
Most major wars in the last 75 years or so have taken place in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.
But I can report that rumors of imminent war are rife here in Europe.
At the moment, I’m on my way to Eastern Europe to cover the escalating crisis. I’ll also be a keynote speaker at a conference being held in the Estonian Parliament in the capital of Tallinn, a mere 2.5-hour drive from the Russian border.
More on the conference tomorrow.
For now, let me give you the latest developments.
U.S. intelligence says Russia is now fully ready to invade Ukraine – and could strike as early as Wednesday.
Europe thus suddenly finds itself on the verge of the biggest land war since World War II.
One intelligence estimate indicates upwards of 50,000 deaths could result.
Hundreds of thousands of refugees could also be created from such a war.
“The U.S. intelligence briefing included specific reference to next Wednesday, Feb. 16, as a start date for the ground invasion,” three officials – based in Washington, London and Ukraine – told Politico.
ISRAEL, U.S., OTHERS URGE ALL CITIZENS TO LEAVE UKRAINE IMMEDIATELY
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Saturday night that all Israelis should immediately leave Ukraine. An estimated 15,000 Israelis live or work there.
Israeli officials say plans are being prepared to create an airlift to evacuate Israelis if necessary.
Currently, 22 civilian flights a week travel between the two countries.
The U.S. is also urging all Americans to leave Ukraine immediately.
The U.S. is also evacuating most of its embassy staff in the capital of Kyiv (also spelled Kiev).
“On February 12, 2022, the Department of State ordered the departure of most U.S. direct hire employees from Embassy Kyiv due to the continued threat of Russian military action,” read a statement. “U.S. citizens should not travel to Ukraine, and those in Ukraine should depart immediately using commercial or other privately available transportation options.”
Germany, Netherlands, Spain and Belgium are doing the same. Others are expected to follow.
BIDEN SPEAKS TO PUTIN, EVEN AS HE BOLSTERS U.S. FORCES NEAR RUSSIAN BORDER
U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin for 62 minutes on Saturday night.
The White House issued the following statement:
“President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. spoke today with President Vladimir Putin of Russia about Russia’s escalating military buildup on the borders of Ukraine. President Biden was clear that, if Russia undertakes a further invasion of Ukraine, the United States together with our Allies and partners will respond decisively and impose swift and severe costs on Russia. President Biden reiterated that a further Russian invasion of Ukraine would produce widespread human suffering and diminish Russia’s standing. President Biden was clear with President Putin that while the United States remains prepared to engage in diplomacy, in full coordination with our Allies and partners, we are equally prepared for other scenarios.”
On Friday, “the president held a secure video conference with key allies and partners to coordinate our approach to this crisis,” said National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. “The participants were the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Poland, Romania, the Secretary General of NATO, and the presidents of the European Union.”
Currently, the U.S. is increasing is military presence in NATO countries such as Poland and the three Baltic states — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — to deter any temptation Putin might have to expand or redirect his invasion.
“NATO has been moving swiftly in recent weeks to increase its force presence along the eastern flank, and on Friday, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered an additional 3,000 troops from the 82nd Airborne Infantry Brigade Combat Team to Poland,” reported Politico. That will bring the total number of U.S. troops sent to Poland and Germany to 5,000.”
“Additionally, 1,000 soldiers based in Germany were sent to Romania last week,” Politico noted. “The U.S. also sent four U.K.-based F-15 fighters to Poland. The U.K. has said it is sending additional troops to Poland and France is sending soldiers to Romania as part of NATO’s beefed-up response to the huge Russian military mobilization.”
PUTIN DENIES ANY INTENTION TO INVADE
In a 90-minute call with French President Emmanuel Macron, Putin denied any intention of seizing Ukraine.
“We are not saying that a decision has been taken — a final decision has been taken by President Putin,” Sullivan said. “What we are saying is that we have a sufficient level of concern based on what we are seeing on the ground and what our intelligence analysts have picked up.”
Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.