Despite Russian troop drawdown, US president claims invasion is imminent “in several days”
US President Joe Biden told reporters on Thursday that Russia is “prepared to go into Ukraine, attack Ukraine,” and that such an invasion will come in “several days.”
Previous US dates for an invasion have come and gone, and Moscow has withdrawn some of its troops from the area near its Ukrainian border.
Describing the risk of a Russian invasion as “very high,” Biden told reporters on Thursday that “every indication that we have is that they are prepared to go into Ukraine, attack Ukraine.”
“My sense is it will happen within the next several days,” Biden added.
Biden’s words echo those of the US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas Greenfield, who also told reporters on Thursday that “the evidence on the ground is that Russia is moving toward an imminent invasion.”
However, Washington has tried and failed to predict a Russian offensive several times now. Media reports attributed to anonymous US officials in recent weeks set Tuesday and Wednesday as potential start dates for an invasion, but it never materialized. Leaders in both Ukraine and Russia have dismissed the US warnings, and Moscow on Tuesday announced a partial drawdown of troops stationed in Russian territory near the Ukrainian border.
Nevertheless, tension in the region remains high. An American official on Thursday accused Moscow of lying about its troop withdrawal and instead sending thousands more soldiers to the border area. The anonymous official did not provide any evidence for this claim, which is contradicted by video footage showing Russian tanks being transported from the border region back to bases further inside Russia.
Amid the withdrawal, however, news broke of heavy fire and explosions on the contact line between Ukraine and the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) in the east of the country. DPR officials accused Ukrainian units of attacking several towns and villages using 82 millimeter mortars, hand grenades, and rifles. Subsequently, the Ukrainian military accused fighters from the Lugansk People’s Republic, the other breakaway territory in the region, of shelling civilian targets on the Ukrainian side.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed that a “genocide” of Russian-speakers is underway in the Donbass region, and called on Kiev to abide by the 2015 Minsk agreements to bring a diplomatic solution to the conflict.
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