The chill of a Cold War hung over Eastern Europe with the Russian military stepping up drills close to Ukraine and the US Intelligence escalating its dire warnings about a possible Russian invasion, saying it could take place within days.
The White House said it still didn't know if Russian President Vladimir Putin had taken a decision to invade, but it said Putin has assembled all the elements to do so quickly. Moscow, in turn, has accused Western countries of stirring up hysteria and blamed it on the ‘Anglo-Saxon need for war.'
Thousands of British, American and other European citizens - including many embassy staff - have been told to get out of Ukraine while they still can, as they were warned there would be no military evacuation in the wake of a Russian attack.
The US has picked up intelligence that Russia is looking at Wednesday as a target date, said an official, who was not authorized to speak publicly and did so only on condition of anonymity; but he would not say how definitive the intelligence was.
In a demonstration of American commitment to NATO allies, the Pentagon is sending 3,000 more combat troops to Poland to join 1,700 already assembling there.
The White House also said Biden and Putin will discuss the crisis by phone on Saturday.
Moscow has announced sweeping drills in the Black and Azov Seas in the coming days and closed large areas for commercial shipping, drawing a strong protest from Ukraine.
Despite the flurry of flights crisscrossing Europe to bring leaders together around the tables of diplomacy over the past weeks, the results have been far less spectacular as both sides continue to wait to see who will blink first over the issue.