White House to avoid describing Russian invasion of Ukraine as ‘imminent’
The United States will no longer use the word “imminent” to describe a potential further Russian invasion of Ukraine, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a press briefing on Feb. 2
“I used that (word) once, I think others have used that (word) once, and then we stopped using it because I think it sent a message that we were not intending to send, which was that we knew that President Putin had made a decision,” said Psaki.
The word itself caused a stir in Ukraine during a Jan. 28 press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, who, talking to foreign media, blamed Ukraine’s recent economic troubles on what he claimed was a false “imminent invasion” narrative.
The Ukrainian hryvnia has fallen to its lowest levels in four years and foreign investors are pulling out of domestic government bonds, in what the National Bank of Ukraine calls “geopolitical risks” affecting the economy.
During the press briefing, Psaki announced that while the threat of another Russian offensive in Ukraine remains, Russian President Vladimir Putin seems not yet to have made a final decision on the matter.
Since the end of October 2021, Russia has been massing troops close to the Ukrainian border.
Russia has since deployed more than 130,000 troops and offensive weapons near the Ukrainian border and in the temporarily occupied parts of the country, according to the latest intelligence estimate by the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.
International media have speculated that Russia may invade Ukraine in early 2022, in an operation that could involve up to 200,000 Russian soldiers.
The situation on Ukraine's eastern border is a matter of deep concern for both U.S. and European officials. According to U.S. President Joe Biden, the White House is looking at a range of options to dissuade Russia from attacking Ukraine.
While Russia has denied plans to invade, it has also refused to provide assurances that it would not do so, instead issuing its demand for so-called “security guarantees” to the United States and NATO.
The United States sees indications that Russia is preparing for a major offensive against Ukraine by mid-February, according to U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.
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