US Secretary of State Antony Blinken confers with US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield during a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on February 17, 2022.
Washington CNN  — 

The US ambassador to the United Nations said Thursday that Russia’s “intentions are very clear” with Ukraine, hours after Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the UN Security Council in a tense meeting that Moscow was laying the groundwork to justify starting a war and preparing to launch an attack on Ukraine in the coming days.

“You know that we had a Security Council meeting today and Secretary Blinken openly asked our Russian counterpart, ‘Tell us here, the Security Council, you do not intend to invade,’ and they did not do that. So their intentions are very clear,” UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told CNN’s Erin Burnett on “OutFront.” “When they do it, will be their decision. But we need to be ready when it happens.”

The United States says evidence at Ukraine’s border shows that Russia is “moving towards an imminent invasion” and is not withdrawing troops, despite Moscow’s claims. At the UN meeting Thursday, Blinken detailed US intelligence about Russia’s attempts to fabricate a pretext for an invasion in an attempt to “influence Russia to abandon the path of war and choose a different path while there’s still time.”

Moscow, Blinken said, was likely to try to generate a pretext for the war, which could be a fabricated terrorist bombing inside Russia, the invented discovery of a mass grave or a staged drone strike.

Russia has repeatedly dismissed the notion that it is preparing to attack Ukraine as “baseless accusations.”

Thomas-Greenfield pointed to the 150,000 Russian troops near the Ukraine border, as well as troops in Belarus, as an indication that Russia is “prepared for an attack any day.”

“They have put these troops on the border. We saw them do this when they invaded Crimea. We’ve seen them do it when they invaded other parts of Eastern Europe,” she told Burnett.

The comments from the UN ambassador and other top US officials – including President Joe Biden, who gave a blunt warning Thursday that he believed an attack would happen “within the next several days” – mark an even greater sense of urgency from the Biden administration that Russia’s actions indicated the Kremlin was moving forward with plans for war.

“Every indication that we have is that they are prepared to go into Ukraine, attack Ukraine,” Biden told reporters as he left the White House.

Thomas-Greenfield stressed Thursday that the US will “continue to aggressively lean in on diplomacy and hopefully succeed with a diplomatic solution.” If a Russian invasion doesn’t occur, she said, it will be because of diplomatic efforts.

“We hope we are sitting across the table from them next week to have a discussion on a way forward, with their concerns on the table, our concerns on the table, and a way forward that does not lead to a confrontation,” she said.