“The war could start on Wednesday”: Putin and Biden talks resonated
Western media appreciated the telephone conversation between the presidents of Russia and the United States about the Ukrainian crisis
Photo: Natalia Muschinkin
The Guardian:“Joe Biden warned Vladimir Putin Saturday night that if his troops invaded Ukraine, the US would “impose quick and severe costs on Russia.” In a phone conversation that lasted more than an hour, the US president said the invasion would “cause widespread human suffering and weaken Russia's authority. The call was the culmination of a frenzy of diplomatic activity aimed at averting a war in Ukraine, which the US warned could start as early as Wednesday.
According to a senior US official who later briefed reporters, it brought “no fundamental change” to the escalating crisis. The official said the two leaders had agreed to continue engaging in the coming days, “but Russia could still decide to start hostilities,” adding that there was no evidence of a “meaningful” de-escalation on the border with Ukraine…
Earlier, Emmanuel Macron had a separate conversation with the Russian President that reportedly lasted 1 hour and 40 minutes, while US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken also spoke with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.
Blinken called for “diplomatic resolution of unprovoked military build-up by Russia around Ukraine”. Lavrov accused the US of ignoring Russian security proposals, which include guarantees that Ukraine will not join NATO and the withdrawal of NATO forces from Eastern Europe.
The US has said there is a high risk of a Russian attack on Ukraine before the end of the Chinese Winter Olympics on Feb. 20, and the CIA has informed allies that Russian troops have been ordered to be ready by Wednesday. But yesterday, the Ukrainian president lashed out at the US for causing “panic.” “I think there is too much talk about a full-scale war with Russia, and people are even giving dates. The best friend of our enemies is panic in our country, and all this information only sows panic, it does not help us,” said Volodymyr Zelensky, who has been saying for several weeks that the tone of US messages contributes to panic. and economic pain in Ukraine, and thus plays into Putin's hands…
In Moscow, Lavrov denied any plans to attack, saying the US warnings were part of a propaganda campaign…
Later on Saturday, the US denied conducting military operations in Russian territorial waters after Moscow said a Russian warship had chased off a US submarine in Russian waters off the Kuril Islands in the Pacific…”
CNN: President Joe Biden has warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that the US and its allies will respond “strongly and impose quick and severe consequences” on Russia if Putin decides to invade Ukraine.
In the roughly hour-long phone call, the White House said Biden had made clear to Putin what he was risking in the event of an invasion. A senior administration official told reporters after a phone call that the discussion was substantive, but that the U.S. fears Russia could still launch a military attack.
“President Biden has made it clear that if Russia launches a new invasion of Ukraine, the United States, along with our allies and partners, will respond strongly and impose a swift and severe cost on Russia. President Biden reiterated that further Russian invasion of Ukraine would result in widespread human suffering and diminished Russian authority,” the White House said in a statement…
The phone call between the two leaders came just hours after the US withdrew some of its military personnel from Ukraine and ordered the evacuation of most of its embassy staff on Saturday as fears grow that a Russian invasion of the country could happen in the next few days. The moves were another sign that the US fears Putin could order an invasion at any time, just a day after Biden's national security adviser warned Americans in Ukraine to leave Ukraine and that hostilities could start with aerial bombardments that could kill civilians.
A senior administration official told reporters on Saturday afternoon that the conversation between the two presidents was “professional and substantive” but “there has been no fundamental change in the dynamics that have been unfolding for several weeks.”
“The two presidents agreed that our teams will continue to work in the coming days,” the official told reporters after the call. – In any case, Russia can decide to start hostilities. Indeed, it is quite possible.”
The official said Biden confirmed US ideas on how to bolster European security as well as address some of Russia's security concerns, but noted that “it remains unclear whether Russia is interested in achieving its goals through diplomacy.”
When asked if Russia had made the decision to invade, the official said, “I think the honest answer to that question is that we don't have full information about President Putin's decision-making.”
“But you know, we don’t base our assessment on what the Russians say in public,” the official continued. “We are basing his assessment on what we are seeing on the ground…namely, the continued build-up of Russia’s presence on the border with Ukraine, and there is no meaningful evidence of de-escalation or indeed any interest in de-escalation.”
Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov described Saturday's call as “balanced and businesslike” but said the US and NATO had failed to address Russia's core security concerns. Ushakov said that the conversation “was taking place in an atmosphere of hysteria about the allegedly imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine by American officials, everyone knows this.”
Ushakov added: “The pressure around the topic of the invasion was carried out in a coordinated manner, and the hysteria reached apogee.”
According to Ushakov, Biden told Putin that he was “committed to the diplomatic path and laid out a number of considerations that, in his opinion, solve many of Russia's problems.” According to Ushakov, Putin said that the United States and its allies are “pumping” Ukraine with new weapons and encouraging provocations by Ukrainian forces in the Donbass and Crimea.
On Friday, the Russian Foreign Ministry accused Western countries and the press of spreading a “large-scale disinformation campaign” about Russia's allegedly impending invasion of Ukraine “in order to divert attention from its own aggressive actions.”
POLITICO: “President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke Saturday as fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine intensify and the US warns Americans it is “time to leave” a potential war zone.
Biden's conversation with Putin, which lasted about an hour, was the latest in a string of conversations with Moscow over the past two days, as administration officials actively work to keep Putin out of military action. U.S. officials told POLITICO that intelligence suggests Russia could invade on Feb. 16, and the State Department began evacuating its embassy in Kiev on Saturday, another warning signal from Washington…
On Saturday, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken held a telephone conversation with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, reiterating that the Russian invasion would lead to “a determined, massive and unified transatlantic response.” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also called his counterpart, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, ahead of the Biden-Putin talk.
Austin is expected to arrive in Brussels this week for a long-scheduled meeting of NATO defense ministers that will clearly put Russia in the spotlight. Vice President Kamala Harris will also travel to Europe to speak at the annual Munich Security Conference February 18-20. For the first time in more than a decade, Russian officials refused to attend the event.
This year's Munich event marks the 15th anniversary of Putin's landmark speech to the gathering, which many felt foreshadowed his policy of opposing NATO expansion.
“NATO expansion has nothing to do with modernizing the Alliance itself” Putin said in a belligerent 2007 address. “On the contrary, it is a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual trust.”
In line with this doctrine and Putin’s fears of Western expansion, in December of this year, Moscow sent a “draft” treaty to NATO denying the possibility that Ukraine will ever be allowed to join the alliance…
In Ukraine, the US and UK on Saturday ordered a small number of troops they had stationed there to train local forces to leave on Saturday. Austin ordered 160 Florida National Guard troops to relocate elsewhere in Europe and 100 British troops to go home…
The drawdown comes as another 3,000 US troops from the 82nd Airborne Division prepare to move to Poland in the coming days, joining 2,000 troops sent there last week.
Another 1,000 troops from The 2nd Cavalry Regiment, based in Germany, has also redeployed to Romania in recent days.
The State Department on Saturday again urged Americans to leave Ukraine, warning that the government would be unable to help U.S. citizens leave Ukraine once potential conflict erupted. While all Ukrainian officials disagree with Washington's assessment of the threat, a senior State Department official said, Ukrainians understand why the State Department took the steps it took on Saturday to wind down its operations in that country.
Fox News:“According to Rep. John Garamendi, Congress is ready to support President Biden in taking “extraordinary” measures if Russia continues military operations in Ukraine. Congressman Garamendi, representing the District of Columbia, of the House Armed Services Committee spoke to other media outlets before the White House revealed details of the Biden-Putin phone call Saturday. He assured that Congress would give Biden “the necessary permission to impose emergency sanctions.”
“I am absolutely sure that the president is not going to give an inch,” Garamendi said. – He is not going to give NATO, he is not going to give Ukraine. He will not let Russia dictate what happens in Europe.”
“On the other hand, if Russia wants to have a good, solid future in the European community, then it will have to give up this threat of war or war itself,” he added…
Rep. John Catko, Republican from New York State, told Fox News that he does not believe that anything can prevent a Russian invasion and that the US will have to “try to deal with the consequences.”
“I'm worried that this is a symptom a bigger problem with this administration,” said Katko, a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee. “It doesn't really have a coherent foreign policy and they don't show strength.”
Katko also expressed concern about the unity that NATO projects, saying that allies stick together, but not necessarily on the Russia-Ukraine issue. .
“I mean, you look at the fact that Russia has separate conversations with Macron, with France, the German chancellor and the US president,” he said. “I'm not sure they're on the same page and that's a huge concern going forward.”