Invasion or diplomacy? Biden says Russian invasion of Ukraine still possible, but chance for diplomacy remains
A further Russian invasion into Ukrainian territory remains distinctly possible, but Russia should instead choose diplomacy to avoid war, U.S. President Joe Biden said on Feb. 15 during a briefing to provide an update on the Russia crisis.
Biden stressed that the United States, along with its allies and partners, were ready to conduct diplomacy with Russia to improve stability and security in Europe as a whole.
“This weekend I spoke again with President Putin to make clear that we are ready to keep pursuing high-level diplomacy to reach written understandings among Russia, the United States, and the nations of Europe to address legitimate security concerns if that’s what — his wish. Their security concerns and ours,” he said.
The U.S. president emphasized that “as long as there is hope of a diplomatic resolution that prevents the use of force and avoids the incredible human suffering that would follow, we will pursue it.”
“Yesterday, the Russian government publicly proposed to continue the diplomacy. I agree. We should give the diplomacy every chance to succeed. I believe there are real ways to address our respective security concerns,” said Biden.
At the same time, he pointed out that there had been no confirmation yet that Russian military units were returning to their home bases, in contrast to a Russian Defense Ministry statement on Feb. 15 that some military units were leaving their positions near Ukraine.
“Indeed, our analysts indicate that they remain very much in a threatening position. And the fact remains: Right now, Russia has more than 150,000 troops encircling Ukraine in Belarus and along Ukraine’s border,” Biden said.
He also commented on Russia’s demand that NATO should not expand to the east and provide membership to Ukraine.
In this regard, Biden stressed that the United States would not sacrifice basic principles.
“Nations have a right to sovereignty and territorial integrity. They have the freedom to set their own course and choose with whom they will associate.”
As for the sanctions Russia may face if it further invades Ukraine, Biden said that “the United States and our Allies and partners around the world are ready to impose powerful sanctions on (and) export controls, including actions that did not – we did not pursue when Russia invaded Crimea and eastern Ukraine in 2014.”
“We will put intense pressure on their largest and most significant financial institutions and key industries,” he said, adding that these measures would apply to the Nord Stream-2 pipeline that should bring natural gas from Russia to Germany.
However, the U.S. president stressed that he would not send U.S. servicemen to fight Russia in Ukraine, but would defend every inch of NATO territory with the full force of U.S. power, and that the United States would conduct military exercises to enhance defensive readiness.
Russia’s potential invasion of Ukraine
On Feb. 11, the Reuters international news agency reported that U.S. President Joe Biden met his national security advisers in the White House Situation Room late on Feb. 10 to discuss Russia’s ongoing military buildup around Ukraine.
A source familiar with the meeting said that rhetoric from Moscow is hardening. Russia has sailed six warships into the Black Sea and added more military equipment to Belarus, leading U.S. officials to believe the crisis appears to be reaching a critical point.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has again said that the Ukrainian government has “everything under control.”
On Feb. 11, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the U.S. government “continue to see very troubling signs of Russian escalation, including new forces arriving at the Ukrainian border.”
He warned that Russia could launch an invasion at any time, including during the Winter Olympics in Beijing.
The U.S.-based Politico political media outlet also reported on Feb. 11 that U.S. President Joe Biden told Western leaders that Russia would start a physical assault on Ukraine as soon as Feb. 16.
Russia in turn accused the Western media of a “large-scale disinformation campaign.”
Russia has deployed about 140,000 troops and equipment on the border with Ukraine.
While officially denying its intention to carry out a large-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russia continues to provide arms and orders to its proxy groups in non-government controlled regions of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts.
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