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Biden Says Putin Has Chosen ‘Catastrophic’ Struggle Over Diplomacy

By , in Politics , at February 19, 2022

President Biden spoke amid fears that Russia was setting the stage for an invasion that might ignite the most important battle in Europe in many years.

WASHINGTON — President Biden stated on Friday that the US has intelligence displaying that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has made a remaining resolution to reject diplomatic overtures and invade Ukraine, in what Mr. Biden stated could be a “catastrophic and unnecessary conflict of alternative” in Japanese Europe.

Talking from the Roosevelt Room within the White Home, Mr. Biden stated “we’ve got purpose to consider the Russian forces are planning to and intend to assault Ukraine within the coming week, within the coming days,” including that “we consider that they may goal Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, a metropolis of two.eight million harmless individuals.”

Requested whether or not he thinks that Mr. Putin continues to be wavering about whether or not to invade, Mr. Biden stated, “I’m satisfied he’s made the choice.” Later, he added that his impression of Mr. Putin’s intentions relies on “a big intelligence functionality.”

Nonetheless, Mr. Biden implored Russia to “select diplomacy.”

“It’s not too late to de-escalate and return to the negotiating desk,” Mr. Biden stated, referring to deliberate talks between Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Russia’s international minister on Thursday. “If Russia takes navy motion earlier than that date, it will likely be clear that they’ve slammed the door shut on diplomacy.”

Within the hours earlier than Mr. Biden’s late afternoon remarks, Russia-backed separatists in japanese Ukraine referred to as for mass evacuations in two contested areas of the nation, claiming, with little proof, that Ukraine’s navy was about to launch a large-scale assault there, an assertion that appeared meant to impress Russian navy intervention.

The ominous messaging of the rebels within the areas of Donetsk and Luhansk was loudly echoed by Moscow, elevating fears that Russia was setting the stage for an imminent invasion that might ignite the most important battle in Europe in many years.

The decision by the Russian-backed separatists for evacuations got here as they blamed Ukraine for an array of provocations, together with shelling alongside the entrance strains between Ukraine and the separatist forces, and an explosion involving an empty automobile that pro-Moscow information retailers stated belonged to the pinnacle of the area’s safety companies.

Mr. Biden, who had simply concluded a video name with a dozen Western leaders, rejected the claims as lies meant by Mr. Putin to inflame the scenario on the bottom and supply a pretext for conflict — one thing the US and different European leaders had been warning about for weeks.

He cited the bombing of a Ukrainian kindergarten as a Russia-backed provocation. And he pointed to Russian separatist accusations that Ukraine was planning to launch a significant offensive assault as proof of Russian efforts to justify navy motion with misinformation.

“There may be merely no proof to those assertions, and it defies primary logic to consider the Ukrainians would select this second, with properly over 150,000 troops arrayed on its borders, to escalate a yearlong battle,” Mr. Biden stated.

The president’s feedback are the clearest indications of simply how shut the world could also be to the biggest battle in Europe since World Struggle II. He took the extremely uncommon course of particularly predicting the timeframe and parameters of the invasion, regardless of the dangers that he could possibly be proved improper.

“We’re calling out Russia’s plans loudly and repeatedly,” Mr. Biden stated. “Not as a result of we would like a battle however as a result of we’re doing every part in our energy to take away any purpose that Russia could give to justify invading Ukraine and forestall them from shifting.”

The president didn’t say how the administration knew about Mr. Putin’s resolution, however two U.S. officers stated the president’s evaluation was based mostly partly on new intelligence displaying that just about half of the 150,000 Russian forces have moved out of staging and into fight formation and will launch a full-scale invasion inside days.

A Ukrainian military front-line position on Friday near Troitske, in the eastern separatist region of Luhansk, after being hit by an overnight mortar attack.
Tyler Hicks/The New York Instances

The pressure contains 120 to 125 battalion tactical teams, up from the mid-80s earlier within the month. And a number of the forces are Russian reservists who would make up an occupation pressure after an invasion, the officers stated. The officers requested for anonymity to debate authorities assessments.

Mr. Biden vowed that the US and its allies have been united behind imposing extreme financial sanctions if Russia’s forces cross Ukraine’s borders. He stated he additionally held a name with Democratic and Republican lawmakers who expressed united help for the administration throughout a go to to Munich for a safety convention.

In Ukraine, the pinnacle of the nation’s Ministry of Protection stated the declare of an imminent assault by its navy was categorically false and meant to inflame tensions. However the ministry issued a stark warning to residents of the contested areas “to not go away their properties and to not use public transport.” It cited “info that Russian particular companies have mined various social infrastructure amenities in Donetsk,” with the intention of “destabilizing the scenario” there.

The warning mirrored how Russia gave the impression to be pulling out all of the stops to stress the Ukrainians in need of sending its troops throughout the border.

Lynsey Addario for The New York Instances

The fears of brewing battle have been strengthened as U.S. officers stated that as many as 190,000 troops and aligned militias have been arrayed in and close to Ukraine, a quantity that features the separatists. The evaluation was delivered in an announcement by the U.S. mission to the Group for Safety and Cooperation in Europe, which referred to as it “probably the most important navy mobilization in Europe for the reason that Second World Struggle.”

In line with Russia’s contradictory messaging all through the disaster, nonetheless, Mr. Putin stated on Friday that he was ready for additional diplomacy. The announcement of the assembly between Mr. Blinken and the Russian international minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, calmed jittery markets and recommended that there was nonetheless hope for the disaster to be resolved with out conflict.

However Mr. Putin emphasised that Russia would proceed to insist on far-reaching calls for for “safety ensures” in Japanese Europe that the West has rejected — equivalent to a halt to the eastward enlargement of NATO and the pullback of the alliance’s forces from the area.

“We’re able to go on the negotiating observe underneath the situation that every one questions might be thought of collectively, with out being separated from Russia’s essential proposals,” Mr. Putin stated in a information convention alongside his shut ally President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko of Belarus, who was visiting Moscow.

Friday’s drumbeat of alarms from the separatists about Ukrainian provocations aligned with how Western officers have been warning {that a} “false flag” incident could possibly be used to start out a navy battle.

Tyler Hicks/The New York Instances

In calling for individuals within the contested areas to evacuate to Russia, Denis Pushilin, the pro-Moscow chief of the Donetsk Individuals’s Republic, supplied a stark model of what could be coming in citing supposed provocations by Ukraine.

“Very quickly, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky will order the navy to go on an offensive, to implement a plan to invade the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk individuals’s republics,” he stated in a video posted on-line, providing no proof.

Kyiv firmly denied Moscow’s accusations. And in his remarks Friday, Mr. Biden stated there was “no proof” behind them.

Though Moscow insists that it has no plans for an invasion, it has vowed to mount “a tricky response” if the US and its NATO companions don’t roll again their presence in Japanese Europe.

In an indication of power, Russia plans main drills this weekend that may embrace the launch of ballistic and cruise missiles, the nation’s Protection Ministry stated, in response to the Interfax information company.

Russia’s drills will take a look at its strategic nuclear forces, which embrace the land-based launchers, bombers and warships used to ship nuclear weapons. They’ll contain the Black Sea Fleet, which has been engaged in large-scale workout routines within the area bordering Ukraine. Mr. Putin will preside over them from a “scenario heart,” the Kremlin stated.

The Protection Ministry stated the drills had been deliberate prematurely, and Dmitri S. Peskov, Mr. Putin’s spokesman, denied that they have been meant to boost tensions with the West. However they may come at a important juncture within the standoff over Ukraine.

Lynsey Addario for The New York Instances

Close to the entrance in Ukraine, it was potential to listen to the blasts from munitions fired by the Ukrainian navy and incoming hearth from the pro-Russian separatists.

A complete of 12 homes were damaged by shelling Friday morning, stated an area department of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

In remarks earlier than Ukraine’s parliament, the nation’s protection minister, Oleksiy Reznikov, urged Ukrainians dwelling within the separatist-held territory to not consider Russian propaganda that the Ukrainian authorities was going to assault them.

“Don’t be afraid,” he stated. “Ukraine will not be your enemy.”

An estimated 3.5 million individuals stay within the two breakaway areas, and self-declared republics, and for the reason that conflict began there, Russia has handed out citizenship to greater than 700,000 individuals dwelling within the Donbas area. In his messaging on Ukraine, Mr. Putin has warned of the plight of ethic Russians within the nation, saying that occasions in japanese Ukraine “resemble genocide.”

Highlighting the rising danger of navy battle, Britain introduced Friday night time that it was following the US’ lead in evacuating its embassy from Kyiv to the western metropolis of Lviv.

With fears working excessive that Russian troops in Belarus may invade Ukraine from the northern border with Belarus, solely 140 miles from the capital, the Ukrainian authorities ordered the location of the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe closed to vacationers.

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

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