Putin decides to occupy Ukraine, but says open door to diplomacy

“At this point, I hope he made that decision,” Biden said in a statement to the White House.

The president said the United States hoped Russian forces would attack Ukraine “in the coming week” or soon, and that an attack would be launched on the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.

Biden plans to spend the weekend meeting with his national security team and keeping in touch with world leaders to monitor the ongoing Ukraine crisis from the White House, several officials say. Biden considered it a habit to travel to Delaware, but decided to stay in Washington.

Over the past few days, the Biden administration has made public a number of intelligence details about Russian movements – a significant change in the way US national security officials generally act. The administration decided to “discuss loudly and repeatedly” Biden’s moves into the Roosevelt chamber on Friday to “justify the invasion of Ukraine and prevent any movement by Russia to eliminate any possible reason”.

“Make no mistake. If Russia continues its plans, it will be responsible for a catastrophic and unnecessary election war,” he added.

The president’s statement on Friday that Putin was “determined” to invade Ukraine was a significant change in his position. Biden previously said he did not believe the Russian leader had made his decision, but acknowledged that his understanding of Putin’s thinking was limited. “Diplomacy is always possible,” he said Friday, adding that he hoped diplomacy could improve the situation.

Asked why he believes Putin is considering diplomacy, Biden said: “We have significant intelligence.”

Biden said on Friday that Russia was misrepresenting Putin’s false justification for occupying Ukraine, accusing Russia of engaging in ceasefire violations in a “rapidly escalating crisis”.

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“Over the past few days, we have seen great progress in pro-Russian militants violating the ceasefire to provoke Ukraine in the Donbass,” Biden said. Russian state media, including a “fake” claim of genocide in the Donbass region.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova responded to Biden’s remarks by saying, “The worst thing is that there is not a single word about the real situation of the public in Donbass. No people, no problems?”

But the Russians’ claims are simply meaningless, Biden argued on Friday, “believing that the Ukrainians will pick this moment violates basic logic – with 150,000 troops stationed on its borders – to increase to a year – a long conflict.”

In reporting on Zakarova’s comments, Russia’s state news agency RIA-Novosti added, “The US president has repeatedly said that Russia’s attempts to invade Ukraine are threatening Moscow with sanctions in the event of a serious event. Reports and expansion plans.”

White House officials have warned that Russia’s occupation of Ukraine could lead to comprehensive sanctions, calling it “the toughest action we have ever considered against Russia.”

Despite the US assessment of an immediate invasion of Ukraine, Biden said it was up to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky to decide whether to attend a security conference in Germany this weekend. Vice President Kamala Harris is expected to meet with Jalensky during the summit on Saturday.

Earlier on Friday, the White House blamed Russia for a massive cyber attack on Ukraine earlier this week.

“We believe the Russian government is responsible for a large number of cyber-attacks on Ukrainian banks this week. We have technical information linking to the Russian Directorate of Intelligence or the GRU. Said Anne Newberger, deputy national security adviser for technology.

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The reason for the attack was unusually fast for the US government, and Newberger noted that Russia had previously benefited from the US delay in blaming Russian hacking operations.

“Russia wants to go into the shadows and continue its malicious behavior against Ukraine in cyberspace, including the preconditions for its possible invasion,” Newberger told reporters at the White House conference room.

Biden’s speech on Friday comes amid rising tensions in the region.

U.S. officials say Russia has a list of senior Ukrainian officials

A security official familiar with the latest estimate said that nearly half of the Russian forces around Ukraine were under attack. The number of battalion tactical units increased from approximately 120 to 125.

The official said that the Russian army was constantly moving troops towards the border and that the number of troops under attack had reached 40% to 50% in the last 48 hours.

Michael Carpenter, the US ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, warned earlier on Friday that the United States had assessed a significant Russian military presence near Ukraine over the past two weeks.

“Russia has amassed 169,000-190,000 workers in and around Ukraine, up from about 100,000 on January 30,” he said in a statement at the OSCE meeting. This includes Russian troops on the border with Ukraine and Russian-led forces in eastern Ukraine, which have not been included in previous US estimates of Russia’s strength in the region.

Shortly before his remarks, Biden spoke with allies in North America and Europe. He will hold telephone calls with leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, the United Kingdom, the European Union and NATO to discuss the current crisis.

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During the call, the leaders “expressed deep concern” over the situation and reiterated their support for Ukraine and discussed further economic assistance to the country, the White House statement said.

“They pledged to continue diplomacy to defuse tensions while ensuring that they are prepared to impose rapid, integrated economic costs on Russia if they choose to further the conflict. The leaders also discussed efforts to ensure the security and security of NATO’s eastern part,” the statement said. .

The president on Friday called for a vice president’s meeting with all members of Congress attending the Munich Security Conference in Germany, and reiterated the work being done by the United States and its allies, according to someone in the room. Should try to prevent the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He also briefed members on the situation on the border with Ukraine.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misrepresented the Russian response to Biden’s comments.

CNN’s Oren Lieberman, Guidlon Collins, Darya Tarasova and Johnny Hallam contributed to the report.

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