US President Joe Biden on Friday alleged that his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin had made up his mind to Ukraine, and warned that an invasion could take place in the coming “days” or the coming “week.”
In an address from the White House, Biden first spoke accused Russia of carrying out a disinformation campaign, and provided examples of the same.
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“For example, a shelling of Ukrainian kindergarten yesterday which Russia has falsely asserted was carried out by Ukraine. We also continue to see more and more disinformation being pushed out to the Russian public, including Russian-backed separatists, claiming that Ukraine is planning to launch a massive offensive attack in the Donbas,” Biden said.
“Look, there is no evidence [of] these assertions, and it defies basic logic to believe the Ukrainians would choose this moment, with well over 150,000 troops arrayed on its borders, to escalate a year-long conflict,” the 79-year-old added.
The US President then went on to address the threat of a Russian invasion, saying, “As of this moment, I am convinced he’s [Vladimir Putin] made the decision [to invade Ukraine].” When pressed about whether he was convinced about Putin’s intentions, Biden replied with a firm “Yes.”
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However, he added that there was still time for Russia to chart a course back into diplomacy, saying, “Diplomacy is always a possibility.”
“Russia can still choose diplomacy. It is not too late to de-escalate and return to the negotiating table,” Biden said, adding, “But if Russia takes military action before that date, it will be clear that they have slammed the door shut on diplomacy.”
“The bottom line is this. The United States and our allies and partners will support the Ukrainian people. We will hold Russia accountable for its actions. The West is united and resolved. We’re ready to impose severe sanctions on Russia if it further invades,” concluded Biden, making the stance of the US and its allies clear.
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Biden’s address comes hours after the US confirmed Russian involvement in a recent series of cyberattacks against Ukrainian banks.
The address also followed reports of a vehicular explosion in Donetsk, suspected to be a car bomb, and reports of a massive evacuation of Russia-backed separatists from the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, both of which, the West fears, could be indicative of an imminent invasion.