Biden Wasn't Going to Say He Was Sure About Russian ‘Ukraine Invasion’ Plan in Friday Speech: Report
18:59 GMT 19.02.2022 (Updated: 19:16 GMT 19.02.2022)
The US president announced Friday that he was “convinced” Russian President Vladimir Putin had “made the decision” to launch an all-out assault on Ukraine “in the coming days.” When asked to elaborate, Biden said the US has “a significant intelligence capability” and abruptly ended the press conference.
President Biden did not plan to say with certainty that Russia would go ahead with an invasion of Ukraine during his speech Friday, and such a message was not included in his prepared remarks, CNN has reported, citing officials and persons said to be familiar with the matter.
According to the outlet’s information, Biden chose to add the bit about being certain of Putin’s supposed invasion plot on the basis of “the latest intelligence assessments,” which were said to have shown that almost half of the Russian forces said to be stationed near Ukraine had ‘moved into attack position’.
Biden confidently announced Friday that “as of this moment” he was “convinced [Putin] has made the decision” to invade Russia’s neighbour.
“We have reason to believe that 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 Kiev, a city of 2.8 million innocent people. We’re calling out Russia’s plans loud 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,” Biden said.
The United States and its allies have spent months accusing Russia of getting ready to invade Ukraine, even as leaders in Kiev called on Washington tone down its war rhetoric.
Last week, several US media outlets confidently predicted that Moscow would start its “invasion” on 16 February. The day came and went without incident, and instead of "invading," Russia demonstrably showed willingness to deescalate by removing forces from the southern border area following drills. US outlets responded by updating their “Russian invasion” timetable, now claiming that the incursion will take place after 20 February.
The media speculation prompted Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova to jokingly ask US media to “publish the schedule for our upcoming invasions for the year” so that she could plan her vacation accordingly.
Instead of a “Russian invasion” of Ukraine, recent days have instead witnessed a dramatic escalation of the crisis in the Donbass, with officials from the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk republics reporting intense shelling by Ukrainian artillery and mortar fire, mobilizing reserves and announcing an evacuation of civilians from their respective territories.
19 February 2022, 04:50 GMT
On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin urged Kiev to sit down to the negotiating table with the Donbass representatives to “agree on political, military, economic and humanitarian measures” to end this conflict. “The sooner this happens, the better,” Putin said.
Together with France and Germany, Russia serves as a guarantor to the 2015 Minsk Agreements aimed at bringing an end to the conflict in Ukraine. Moscow has repeatedly called on Kiev to fulfill its obligations under the agreement – namely constitutional reforms to provide the breakaway regions with constitutionally-guaranteed autonomy.