Russian President Vladimir Putin has options at his disposal that would allow him to invade Ukraine “imminently,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Sunday.
In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Kirby pointed to a buildup of Russian troops near the Russia-Ukraine border and in Belarus, in addition to “maritime activity by the Russians in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic.”
“Putin has a lot of options available to him if he wants to further invade Ukraine and he can execute some of those options imminently,” Kirby said.
When asked to clarify, the top Biden administration Department of Defense spokesperson said Putin could invade Ukraine “at any time.”
“Imminent means it could happen really honestly at any time. Now, when I say ‘it,’ it depends on what Vladimir Putin might want to do,” he said.
“He has a lot of options, a lot of capability available to him. He could do something on a small scale, he could do something on a fairly large scale, and he continues to add troops to that border with Ukraine,” Kirby added. “We are watching that even over the course of this weekend, so he increases his ability to choose options and to do something if he wants to act militarily.”
Despite the tense nature of the situation, Kirby said there is still hope for a diplomatic solution.
“It doesn’t have to come to conflict,” he said. “We still believe there’s room and space for diplomacy, and we’d like to see that be the solution here.”
The Pentagon press secretary added that the U.S. is considering its own options to keep Russia in check.
“So I think we’ve been very, very clear that we are going to look at sanctions and economic consequences, the likes of which we have not looked at before, or even considered even as far back as 2014,” Kirby said.
The imposition of economic sanctions isn’t the only option the U.S. is looking at, he said.
“One of the last things [the Russians] want is a strong and bolstered NATO on their western flank,” Kirby said.
“But if [Putin] does another invasion inside Ukraine, that’s exactly what they’re going to get. They’re going to — you’re going to see the United States and our NATO allies bolster our capabilities on the Eastern flank of the alliance,” he continued.