President Biden urged Americans in Ukraine to "leave now" in a preview of an interview with Lester Holt and NBC aired on Thursday.
"American citizens should leave now," said Biden.
While the full conversation between Biden and Holt will air on Super Bowl Sunday, the US State Department issued their own warning on Thursday telling Americans not to travel to Ukraine, and to get out now if they are currently within the country.
"Ukraine: Do not travel to Ukraine due to increased threats of Russian military action & COVID; those in Ukraine should depart now. If remaining, exercise caution due to crime, civil unrest, & potential combat operations should Russia take military action."
"It’s not like we’re dealing with a terrorist organization. We’re dealing with one of the largest armies in the world. It’s a very different situation and things could go crazy quickly," Biden told Holt.
It would only take Russians 48 hours to reach Kyiv, according to a US military and intelligence assessment, with the Russian military launching a full scale invasion.
Lester Holt asked if there was a scenario in which US troops would be sent in to rescue Americans from Ukraine, but Biden said that’d essentially be a world war, stating: "There’s not. That's a world war when Americans and Russia start shooting at one another."
Biden was confident that if Putin were "foolish enough to go in, he’s smart enough not to, in fact, do anything that would negatively impact on American citizens."
"Have you ever told him that?" Holt asked.
"Yes," Biden responded.
"You've told him that, that Americans will be a line that they can't cross?" Holt asked.
"I didn't have to tell him that, I've spoken about that. He knows that," Biden said.
In a press conference, Putin gave a stern warning to the western world about the situation. If Ukraine were to join NATO and Russia were to try and "bring Crimea back by military means," it’d mean a war between Russia and Europe. He mentioned how in terms of conventional warfare, NATO could have the upper hand in terms of conflict. Putin says Russia’s forte is their nuclear capabilities.
"There will be no winners," said Putin in regards to the potential conflict.
"You won’t even have time to blink your eye when you execute Article 5," Putin told the media crowd, referring to the collective defense article of NATO, stating that an attack on one member nation is an attack on all.
Republican Senator Josh Hawley has urged Biden to drop the Ukraine NATO issue, to which Press Secretary Jen Psaki accused Hawley of "parroting Russian talking points."
President Biden has had a couple of Ukraine related controversies pop up in the media over recent weeks. During a lengthy January press conference, he used the term "minor incursion" when describing one vector of confrontation Russian forces might take.
While that caused backlash on its own, it was a little over a week later that CNN reported on an apparent tense call between the US and Ukraine Presidents on the issue of Russian incursion.
The network had to initially retract their story on the matter because the White House wanted to downplay what was said when it came to the potential for a Russian invasion in February.