Biden says Putin chose 'catastrophic' war on diplomacy

WASHINGTON — President Biden said Friday that the United States has intelligence showing Russian President Vladimir V. Putin made the fi...


WASHINGTON — President Biden said Friday that the United States has intelligence showing Russian President Vladimir V. Putin made the final decision to reject diplomatic overtures and invade Ukraine, in what Biden said. called a “catastrophic and unnecessary war of war”. choice” in Eastern Europe.

Speaking from the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Mr Biden said “we have reason to believe that Russian forces are planning and intending to attack Ukraine in the coming week, in the coming days. “, adding that “we believe that they will target the capital of Ukraine, Kiev, a city of 2.8 million innocent people.

Asked if he thought Mr Putin was still hesitant on whether to invade, Mr Biden replied: “I’m confident he’s made the decision.” Later, he added that his impression of Mr Putin’s intentions was based on “a significant intelligence capability”.

Yet Mr Biden implored Russia to “choose diplomacy”.

“It’s not too late to de-escalate and get back to the negotiating table,” Biden said, referring to scheduled talks between Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Russia’s foreign minister on Thursday. “If Russia takes military action before then, it will be clear that it has slammed the door on diplomacy.”

In the hours before Biden’s late afternoon remarks, Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine called for mass evacuations from two contested regions of the country, saying, with little evidence that the Ukrainian military was about to launch a full-scale attack there, a claim that seemed intended to provoke Russian military intervention.

Worrying messages from rebels in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions have been echoed by Moscow, raising fears that Russia is setting the stage for an imminent invasion that could spark Europe’s biggest conflict in decades.

The Russian-backed separatists’ call for evacuations came as they accused Ukraine of a series of provocations, including shelling along front lines between Ukraine and separatist forces, and an explosion involving an empty car which, according to pro-Moscow media, belonged to the head of the region’s security services.

Mr. Biden, who had just concluded a video call with a dozen Western leaders, dismissed the claims as lies intended by Mr. Putin to escalate the situation on the ground and provide a pretext for war – which the states United and other European leaders had been warning for weeks.

He cited the bombing of a Ukrainian kindergarten as a Russian-backed provocation. And he pointed to Russian separatist accusations that Ukraine was planning to launch a major offensive attack as evidence of Russian efforts to justify military action through disinformation.

“There is simply no evidence for these claims, and it defies basic logic to believe that the Ukrainians would choose this moment, with over 150,000 troops deployed on its borders, to escalate a year-long conflict.” , Mr. Biden said.

The president’s comments are the clearest indications of the world’s closeness to Europe’s biggest conflict since World War II. He took the highly unusual route of specifically predicting the timing and parameters of the invasion, despite the risks that he could be wrong.

“We loudly call for Russia’s plans,” Biden said. “Not because we want a conflict, but because we are doing everything in our power to suppress any reason Russia might give to justify invading Ukraine and keep it from moving.”

The president did not say how the administration knew about Mr Putin’s decision, but two US officials said the president’s assessment was based in part on new intelligence showing that nearly half of the 150 000 Russian forces came out of staging and into combat formation and could launch a full-scale invasion within days.

The force comprises 120 to 125 battalion tactical groups, up from the mid-1980s at the start of the month. And some of the forces are Russian reservists who would constitute an occupation force after an invasion, the officials said. The officials requested anonymity to discuss the government’s assessments.

Mr Biden has vowed the United States and its allies are united behind imposing tough economic sanctions if Russian forces cross Ukraine’s borders. He said he also held a call with Democratic and Republican lawmakers who expressed united support for the administration during a visit to Munich for a security conference.

In Ukraine, the head of the country’s defense ministry said the allegation of an imminent attack by its army was flatly false and intended to stir up tensions. But the ministry issued a stern warning to residents of disputed areas “not to leave their homes and not to use public transport”. He cited “reports that Russian special services have mined a number of social infrastructure in Donetsk”, with the aim of “destabilizing the situation” there.

The warning reflected how Russia seemed to go all out to pressure the Ukrainians before sending its troops across the border.

Fears of an impending conflict were heightened when US officials said as many as 190,000 troops and aligned militias were deployed in and around Ukraine, a number that includes separatists. The assessment was made in a statement by the US Mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which called it “Europe’s largest military mobilization since World War II.”

However, in line with mixed messages from Russia throughout the crisis, Putin said on Friday he was ready to pursue diplomacy. News of Mr. Blinken’s meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei V. Lavrov calmed jittery markets and hinted that there was still hope that the crisis would be resolved without war.

But Mr Putin stressed that Russia would continue to insist on ambitious demands for ‘security guarantees’ in Eastern Europe that the West has rejected – such as halting Europe’s eastward expansion. NATO and the withdrawal of alliance forces from the region. .

“We are ready to embark on the path of negotiations provided that all issues are considered together, without being separated from Russia’s main proposals,” Putin told a news conference alongside his close aide. ally President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko of Belarus, who was visiting Moscow.

Friday’s drumbeat of alarms from separatists over Ukrainian provocations aligns with how Western officials have warned that a “false flag” incident could be used to ignite military conflict.

Calling on residents of disputed areas to evacuate to Russia, Denis Pushilin, the pro-Moscow leader of the Donetsk People’s Republic, offered a stark version of what could happen citing alleged provocations by Ukraine.

“Very soon, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will order the army to go on the offensive, to implement a plan to invade the territory of the people’s republics of Donetsk and Luhansk,” he said in a statement. video posted online, without any evidence.

Kiev has strongly denied Moscow’s accusations. And in his remarks on Friday, Mr Biden said there was “no evidence” behind them.

Although Moscow insists it has no invasion plan, it has pledged to mount ‘a tough response’ if the US and its NATO partners do not cancel their presence in Europe from the east.

In a show of force, Russia is planning major exercises this weekend that will include the launch of ballistic and cruise missiles, the country’s defense ministry said, according to the Interfax news agency.

Russia’s drills will test its strategic nuclear forces, which include land launchers, bombers and warships used to deliver nuclear weapons. They will involve the Black Sea Fleet, which has engaged in large-scale exercises in the border region of Ukraine. Mr Putin will chair them from a “situation center”, the Kremlin said.

The Defense Ministry said the exercises had been planned in advance, and Dmitry S. Peskov, Mr. Putin’s spokesman, denied that they were aimed at increasing tensions with the West. But they will come at a critical moment in the deadlock over Ukraine.

Near the front in Ukraine, it was possible to hear explosions of ammunition fired by the Ukrainian army and incoming fire from pro-Russian separatists.

A total of 12 houses were damaged by shelling Friday morning, said a local branch of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

In remarks to Ukraine’s parliament, the country’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov urged Ukrainians living in separatist-held territory not to believe Russian propaganda that the Ukrainian government was going to attack them.

“Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Ukraine is not your enemy.

An estimated 3.5 million people live in the two breakaway regions and self-declared republics, and since the start of the war Russia has granted citizenship to more than 700,000 people living in the Donbass region. In his message on Ukraine, Mr Putin warned of the plight of ethnic Russians in the country, saying events in eastern Ukraine “look like genocide”.

Underlining the growing risk of military conflict, Britain announced on Friday evening that it was following the lead of the United States in evacuating its embassy from Kiev to the western city of Lviv.

Strongly fearing that Russian troops in Belarus could invade Ukraine from the northern border with Belarus, just 220 km from the capital, Ukrainian authorities have ordered the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site closed to tourists.

Valerie Hopkins and Marc Santora reported from Kyiv, Ukraine, and Ivan Nechepurenko From Moscow. Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Washington.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Biden says Putin chose 'catastrophic' war on diplomacy
Biden says Putin chose 'catastrophic' war on diplomacy
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