President of the United States of America, Joe Bidensaid this Friday, the 18th, that he was convinced that Vladimir Putin had decided to attack Ukraine, The statement was made during a press conference at the White House after a call with other Western leaders.
Asked by reporters whether he believed Russia had already made the decision to attack, the president replied “yes” and said his assumption was based on US intelligence reports.
He did not rule out a diplomatic offer, but insisted that any military action would shut down the channel before the next meeting between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Chancellor Sergei Lavrov. He took the decision. Asked if any diplomatic proposals were already “off the table”, the president replied that “diplomacy is always a possibility”.
Ahead of the press conference, Biden made contact with leaders of the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Romania, as well as the EU and NATO, to maintain a unified stance on tensions in Ukraine. Since last week, the US has warned that Russia could strike “at any time”.
Also on Friday, the United States said that about 190,000 Russian troops were stationed in and around Ukraine, despite Russian announcements of a troop withdrawal in recent days. This number is much higher compared to 130,000 at the end of January. The Americans also reiterated the warning that Moscow would try to fabricate a Ukrainian provocation to justify the invasion of its smaller neighbour.
In addition to accusing Russia of being responsible for recent cyber attacks against Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense and major banks Ukraine, Donetsk and Luhansk Russia.
The move raised fears that Russia would use the conflict in the Donbass basin to justify an invasion of Ukraine. The provinces reported this Friday that they were evacuating their citizens.
For journalists, Biden accused Russia of spreading propaganda by accusing Ukraine of instigating the attacks.
“We continue to spread more and more propaganda to the Russian public, including Russian-backed separatists, alleging that Ukraine is planning to launch a massive offensive on the Donbass,” Biden said. With the core belief that Ukrainians will choose this moment, more than 150,000 troops have been deployed to their borders to escalate the conflict.”
“It’s all in line with the playbook that the Russians used to use earlier,” he said. “It’s also in line with the pretext scenario that the United States and our allies and partners have been warning about for weeks.”
At the same time, the Kremlin announced later this week major nuclear exercises that would include the launch of ballistic and cruise missiles, the country’s defense ministry said. The move will be closely monitored by President Vladimir Putin. (with international agencies)