“As of this moment, I am convinced he’s made the decision,” Biden said during remarks at the White House.
The President also said the US believes Russian forces intend to attack Ukraine “in the coming week” or sooner, and that an attack will target the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.
Biden plans to spend the weekend monitoring the ongoing Ukraine crisis from the White House as he meets with his national security team and remains in close contact with world leaders, multiple officials say. Biden had considered traveling to Delaware, as he typically does, but decided to remain in Washington.
Throughout recent days, the Biden administration has publicly disclosed several intelligence details on Russian movements — a marked shift in how US national security officials typically operate. The administration’s decision to discuss their movements “loudly and repeatedly,” Biden said Friday inside the Roosevelt Room, was made “to remove any reason that Russia may give to justify invading Ukraine and prevent them from moving.”
“Make no mistake. If Russia pursues its plans, it will be responsible for a catastrophic and needless war of choice,” he added.
The President’s assertion on Friday that he’s “convinced” Putin has “made the decision” to invade Ukraine is a significant change in his position. Biden previously stated he did not believe the Russian leader had made up his mind, but acknowledged his insights into Putin’s thinking were limited. He did note that he hoped diplomacy could de-escalate the situation, saying on Friday that “diplomacy is always a possibility.”
Questioned on why he believed Putin is considering diplomacy at all, Biden said only: “We have a significant intelligence capability.”
Biden said Friday that Russian misinformation is building up to a false justification for Putin to invade Ukraine, accusing Russia of ceasefire violations in the “rapidly escalating crisis.”
“Over the last few days, we’ve seen reports of a major uptick in violations of the ceasefire by Russian-backed fighters attempting to provoke Ukraine in the Donbas,” Biden said, pointing to multiple examples of disinformation that he said have been spread by Russian state media, including a “phony” claim of genocide in the Donbas region.
Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova responded to Biden’s comments, saying on her Telegram, “The most monstrous thing is that there’s not a word about the true state of affairs of the civilian population in the Donbas. No people, no problems?”
But the claims by the Russians simply don’t make sense, Biden argued earlier Friday, saying, “It defies basic logic to believe the Ukrainians would choose this moment — with well over 150,000 troops arranged on its borders — to escalate a year-long conflict.”
In reporting Zakharova’s comments, Russia’s state news agency RIA-Novosti also said, “The American president repeated the unsubstantiated thesis about Russia’s alleged attempts to ‘attack’ Ukraine, threatening Moscow with sanctions in…
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