Sullivan Dismisses Russian ‘Invasion Order’ Rumors But Still Won’t Support Impending Attack Claims
22:47 GMT 11.02.2022 (Updated: 13:28 GMT 06.08.2022)
The US claimed for months that a Russian invasion of Ukraine was “imminent” before trying to unring the bell in recent weeks. However, that hasn’t stopped the Biden administration from simply repeating that an attack could happen “at any time” every few days, or from refusing to show journalists a single shred of evidence.
The Biden administration has gotten its messages tangled once again, with “Western and defense officials” telling the US Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) that the Kremlin had handed Russian generals invasion plans and a chief military adviser having to publicly walk that story back.
“We are in the window when an invasion could begin at any time, should Vladimir Putin decide to order it,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters at a regular press conference on Friday.
“I will not comment on the details of our intelligence information, but I want to be clear: it could begin during the Olympics, despite a lot of speculation that it would only happen after the Olympics. As we’ve said before, we are ready either way,” he added.
He said that if Russia does invade Ukraine, the US would “respond decisively” with a slew of sanctions in conjunction with several other US allies, and “changes to NATO and the American force posture along the eastern flank of NATO,” as well as “continued support to Ukraine.”
“Whatever happens next, the West is more united than it’s been in years,” Sullivan said, adding that NATO has been “enhanced.”
In addition, the national security adviser urged all Americans in Ukraine to leave the country in the next 48 hours, claiming “the risk is now high enough and the threat is now immediate enough that this is what prudence demands.”
Sullivan then laid out what the White House says it expects a supposed Russian invasion of Ukraine to look like, saying it would “begin with aerial bombing and missile attacks that could obviously kill civilians without regard to their nationality.”
“A subsequent ground invasion would involve the onslaught of a massive force,” he added.
However, Sullivan was competing with another narrative circulating on social media on Friday afternoon. PBS correspondent Nick Schifrin tweeted
that “The US believes Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to invade Ukraine, and has communicated that decision to the Russian military, three Western and defense officials tell me.”
“The US expects the invasion to begin next week, six US and Western officials tell me,” Schifirin said, adding: “US officials anticipate a horrific, bloody campaign that begins with two days or aerial bombardment and electronic warfare, followed by an invasion, with the possible goal of regime change.”
Sullivan was asked about the PBS report at the presser and said the report “does not accurately capture what the US government’s view is today. Our view is that we do not believe he has made any kind of final decision - or we don’t know that he has made any final decision and we have not communicated that to anybody.”
“We have not seen anything that says a final decision has been taken and the ‘go’ order has been given,” he added.
Western Media Serves Governments’ Political Order’
The Russian Foreign Ministry also swatted down the reports, telling Sputnik that Western media, contrary to the standards of honest journalism, was spreading "blatant misinformation” and engaging in “manipulations in order to introduce the thesis about Moscow's aggressive intentions into public opinion."
"In late 2021 - early 2022, the global media scene has been seeing a campaign unprecedented in its scale and sophistication, the purpose of which is to convince the global community that the Russian Federation is preparing an invasion of the territory of Ukraine," the ministry said, adding that both the media and the NATO powers had also ignored “the detailed and reasoned explanations of Russian officials” and Moscow’s military concerns, particularly over the expansion of NATO and its continued military-technical assistance to Kiev.
"Essentially, the Western media served the political order of their governments by coordinated dissemination of unreliable information, participating in a full-scale information war," the ministry added.
At the presser, Sullivan was also challenged on his refusal to offer any evidence to support his claims. Last week, State Department spokesperson Ned Price attracted widespread condemnation
from journalists after a back-and-forth with Associated Press reporter Matthew Lee about his refusal to provide evidence Russia was planning a false flag attack to start a war with Ukraine by saying the journalist should find “solace” in Russian reports if he doesn’t believe the US government.
Lee invoked the false evidence used to justify the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, and reporters on Friday did the same. Sullivan said the “fundamental distinction” between the two situations was that in 2003, the US wanted to start a war, whereas “we are trying to stop a war.”
He also said the US was sending 3,000 more troops from the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division to Poland, a NATO ally on the border of both Russia and Ukraine, as part of “defensive deployments … intended to deter aggression against NATO.” He added that the US had no intent of going to war with Russia and the troops were not being deployed for combat.
In light of the latest back and forth, it was also confirmed by Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov that - at the US' request - Putin and US President Joe Biden would be holding a phone conversation on Saturday.