Biden ‘convinced’ Putin has decided to invade Ukraine
President Biden on Friday said he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin has made up his mind to move forward with an invasion of Ukraine.
“As of this moment I’m convinced he’s made the decision. We have reason to believe that,” Biden told reporters at the White House after delivering an update on the threat of a Russian invasion.
“You are convinced President Putin is going to invade Ukraine. Is that what you just said a few moments ago?” a reporter asked moments later.
“Yes, I did,” Biden said, adding that diplomacy was still on the table if Moscow chose to deescalate.
Biden and White House officials have for weeks said they did not believe Putin had made a final decision about whether to carry out an invasion into Ukraine even as Russia amassed troops and military equipment along the Ukrainian border. But Biden indicated Friday that had changed and that the U.S. and allies were preparing for a Russian attack in the coming days.
“We have reason to believe the Russian forces are planning to and intend to attack Ukraine in the coming week, in the coming days. We believe that they will target Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv, a city of 2.8 million innocent people,” Biden said in prepared remarks.
“We’re calling out Russia’s plans loudly and repeatedly not because we want a conflict, but because we’re doing everything in our power to remove any reason that Russia may give to justify invading Ukraine and prevent them from moving,” he added.
Biden held a call earlier Friday with leaders from Europe and Canada to discuss the ongoing threat of a Russian invasion. Vice President Harris is scheduled to meet Saturday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the Munich Security Conference in Germany.
Biden and other White House officials have said it is up to Zelensky whether he wants to leave the country amid the threat of a potential Russian attack.
Despite Russian claims in recent days that it was moving forces away from Ukraine’s border, the U.S. and NATO said that Moscow has added troops. Russia is also engaging in military exercises in Belarus, compounding the threat.
Biden on Friday called out Russian claims he said were being used to create a pretext for an invasion. He cited the shelling of a Ukrainian kindergarten classroom by Russian-backed separatists and “fabricated claims” of an impending Ukrainian attack on Russia.
“All of these are consistent with the playbook the Russians have used before to set up a false justification to act against Ukraine,” Biden said. “This is also in line with the pretext scenarios that the United States and our allies and partners have been warning about for weeks.”
Biden reiterated that he would not send U.S. troops into Ukraine should fighting break out, but he pledged support for the Ukrainian people.
“The entire free world is united,” Biden said. “Russia has a choice between war and all the suffering it will bring, or diplomacy.”
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