Following on my post on February 13th, US President Joe Biden believes Russian leader Vladimir Putin has decided to invade Ukraine and that the attack could begin “in the coming days.”
“As of this moment, I’m convinced he’s made the decision. We have reason to believe that,” Mr Biden said, adding that Washington has “significant intelligence capability” to back the claim.
“We believe they will target Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, a city of 2.8 million innocent people,” he said of Russian forces.
But with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken scheduled to speak with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday, Mr Biden said there was still time for negotiations to defuse the crisis.
“Diplomacy is always a possibility,” he told a press conference overnight.
Mr Biden said Moscow was conducting a disinformation campaign, including accusing Kyiv of planning its own attack in order to create a pretext for a Russian invasion.
“There is simply no evidence to these assertions and it defies basic logic to believe the Ukrainians would choose this moment, with well over 150,000 (Russian) troops arrayed on its borders, to escalate a years-long conflict,” Mr Biden said.
“All these are consistent with the playbook the Russians have used before to set up a false justification to act against Ukraine,” Mr Biden said at the White House.
The Australian Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg aims Ukraine war salvo at Russians at G20 meeting
The US President’s latest warning comes after Australia and Russia clashed behind closed doors at a G20 finance ministers meeting in Jakarta, with Josh Frydenberg warning Russia that an invasion of Ukraine would deliver not only a human disaster but a devastating second shock to the global economy just as the world was recovering from Covid.
In an interview with The Weekend Australian, the Treasurer said Russia was playing a “dangerous game” with the global economy that threatened to derail the pandemic recovery.
Mr Frydenberg’s comments follow Defence Minister Peter Dutton’s assessment that Russia and Ukraine were on the cusp of all-out war.
Scott Morrison said on Friday an invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces was imminent. “I hope that does not occur, but I think what we are seeing leads us to fear the worst,” the Prime Minister said.
In a closed-door intervention on Thursday night leading into the first G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bankers for this year, Mr Frydenberg issued a warning to his Russian counterpart that an invasion of Ukraine, which the West now fears is imminent, would have far-reaching human and economic costs.
“On the global outlook, we face a range of important challenges,” Mr Frydenberg told the meeting in which Russian deputy finance minister Timur Maksimov was present.
“The current tensions surrounding Ukraine are deeply concerning, We call upon Russia to de-escalate tensions, the alternative would be disastrous in both human and economic terms. It is in our collective interest that these tensions are resolved peacefully.”
Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland is understood to have issued a similar message, claiming that the knock-on economic consequences of an invasion of Ukraine would deliver a global shock to the economy worse than the pandemic.
Ms Freeland said she was worried the work the G20 was doing to recover could be jeopardised should Russia invade.
The remarks from Mr. Frydenberg earned a swift response from Russia, which accused Australia and Canada of using the economic forum as a security meeting.