U.S. President Joe Biden has issued a stark warning that despite Vladimir Putin’s assurances to the contrary, Russia could launch an invasion of Ukraine within the next several days.
As Kyiv and Moscow continue to blame each other for clashes in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, leaders in the West fear that Putin could use it as an excuse to launch a coordinated Russian military campaign. Biden has even gone as far as to say that the U.S. believes the Kremlin is engaged in “a false flag operation to have an excuse to go in.”
Per The Financial Times, speaking at the White House on Thursday, Biden was pessimistic about the Ukraine crises and revealed there was a “very high risk” of a Russian invasion. He said, “Every indication we have is they’re prepared to go into Ukraine, attack Ukraine. My sense is it will happen in the next several days.”
Although Biden insists the path of diplomacy is still open, his bleak words were symbolic of the general pessimism that has infused the West regarding Russia’s intentions and war-mongering rhetoric. Russia has complained that the draft proposals it put forward addressing its concerns about European security have been “twisted” by the U.S. and has reiterated its threat to take “measures of a military-technical nature.”
On Thursday night, U.S. State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said that Russia had provided a series of possible dates it would meet with the U.S. Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, next week. The meeting is conditional on Russia not having invaded Ukraine, and Price tweeted, “If they do invade in the coming days, it will make it clear they were never serious about diplomacy.”
The White House has also accused Russia of misleading the world by making “false” claims that they were withdrawing forces from the Ukraine border when in reality, they have actually bolstered their military presence in recent days with the addition of 7,000 troops.
Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has branded the West of fanning hysteria by accusing Russia of not being committed to a withdrawal of troops. He said, “This is where the escalation is.” Lavrov has also accused the U.S. of having “not given a constructive response” to Russia’s key demands, which include NATO agreeing never to admit Ukraine and to roll back its eastward expansion. Biden’s statement amidst heightened tensions has seen global stocks drop and traders seek sanctuary in haven assets. The Treasury yield fell 0.08 percentage points to 1.96 percent, and the S&P 500 fell 2.1 percent. The world now watches and waits to see what Putin’s next move will be.