Biden: US Desires Diplomacy But 'Ready No Matter What Happens' If Ukraine Tensions Worsen
19:25 GMT 31.01.2022 (Updated: 13:28 GMT 06.08.2022)
On Monday, US President Joe Biden reiterated the United States' commitment to diplomacy as tensions between Russia, Ukraine, and NATO worsened.
Biden told reporters, "We continue to urge diplomacy as the best way forward, but with Russia continuing its buildup of its forces around Ukraine, we are ready no matter what happens".
Biden spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky last week, and the president continues what he referred to as "non-stop diplomacy".
"I had a productive talk last week with President Zelensky, and we continue to engage in non-stop diplomacy".
According to CNN, however, the purported "productive" talks were not well-received by Biden's Ukrainian counterpart. A senior Ukrainian official claimed that there is a disconnect over the difference between the two sides' risk in the event of a Russian invasion.
White House National Security Council spokesperson Emily Horne dismissed reports of a disconnect between Kiev and Washington as false.
The White House confirmed they have sanction packages ready, should the situation call for it, that target Russian elites and their families.
According to the White House, the targets "are in or near the inner circle of the Kremlin, play a role in government decision making or at a minimum complicit in the Kremlin's destabilising behaviour".
Biden Backs Move to Designate Qatar as 'Major Non-NATO Ally'
On Monday, Biden said he would notify Congress of his intention to designate Qatar as a key non-NATO ally. He is said to have made the decision while meeting with Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, in the Oval Office.
The two reportedly discussed regional security and a push for equal rights for Palestinians.
Europe and several NATO allies are gripped by an energy crisis. Russia supplies over 30% of Europe's natural gas and is the continent's most crucial source of energy. With the threat of sanctions and a potential conflict over the purported buildup of Russian troops along the Ukrainian border, Europe and NATO have looked to find alternative energy exporters to meet their demand. Qatar has been one of the nations reportedly chosen
to help ease Europe's energy crunch.
Pentagon: Troops on 'Heightened Alert' Over Ukraine Crisis Have Not Been Given Deployment Orders
Last week, the United States military put 8,500 troops stationed in the US on "heightened alert" for deployment to Eastern Europe and the Baltic States, according to Pentagon press secretary John Kirby.
"They have not been given deployment orders", Kirby said. "They've just been told to be ready on a shorter period of time in case the alliance activates that".
According to Kirby, the troops could be deployed in five days if called upon. US troops already stationed in Europe could also be called up. The majority of troops are ground forces and would be part of a NATO response force in the event, according to Washington and its allies, that Russia engaged Ukraine in a military conflict.
Kirby told reporters the Pentagon's decision came down to a belief that "it is very clear the Russians have no intensions of de-escalating".
A deployment of troops would reportedly not be a US military decision, but rather a NATO decision, according to Kirby.
US Open Talks Proposal on Ukraine 'Classic Example of Megaphone Diplomacy'
The US has approached the United Nations in an attempt to gain international support over their allegations that a Russian invasion of Ukraine is an imminent threat. The Kremlin has regularly denied the continuing accusations and has cited NATO's increased military presence on its borders over the past decade as a clear double standard.
The US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, implored the UN Security Council to look at Russia's actions and not to take Kremlin statements at face value. She added, however, that diplomacy is the preferred course of action.
Washington has asked Moscow to take part in a public meeting to discuss security concerns in the region.
"The United States has been clear. If this is truly about Russia's security concerns in Europe, we're offering them an opportunity to address these concerns at the negotiating table", Thomas-Greenfield said.
Russia's ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, called the US request for an open meeting a "classic example of megaphone diplomacy".
He observed that the United States and its allies have failed to provide evidence that an attack is imminent and believes Washington is actually pushing for a worst-case scenario, armed conflict, to occur, as a means of justifying an increased global military footprint.
"Talks about the coming war are provocative by themselves. [The US] seems to be calling for this, wanting and waiting for [war] to happen, as if you want to make your speculations come true", Nebenzia pointed out.