Biden ‘in principle’ agrees to meet Putin, as long as Russia doesn’t invade Ukraine
Washington — President Biden has agreed “in principle” to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the near future, on the condition that Russia does not invade Ukraine, the White House announced Sunday evening. The exact time and place of such a meeting have not been determined, but if it does happen it would be sometime after a meeting scheduled for this week between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russia’s Foreign Minister. Sergei Lavrov.
But the United States has information that Russian commanders have been ordered to carry out an invasion of Ukraine, with commanders on the ground laying out specific plans for how they would maneuver in their sectors of the battlefield. , a US official told CBS News.
The orders do not mean an invasion is certain, the official said, because the final decision rests with Putin.
After weeks of warning thatMr. Biden told reporters on Friday that Putin had made the decision to invade Ukraine and said the United States believed Russian forces intended to attack in the “coming days”.
Blinken told “Face the Nation” that the United States still believes Russia is “moving forward” with invasion plans, despite denials from Moscow that Russia is preparing to launch an attack.
“Everything we see tells us that the decision we think President Putin has made to invade is progressing,” Blinken said. “We have seen that with the provocations created by the Russians or the separatist forces over the weekend, the false flag operations, now the news this morning that Russia has engaged in Belarus with 30,000 Russian troops who were supposed to end this weekend will now continue due to tensions in eastern Ukraine, tensions created by Russia and the separatist forces it supports there.”
Russia has massed around 150,000 troops, fighter jets and equipment on three sides of Ukraine, which has heightened tensions with the neighboring country. The Defense Minister of Belarus also announced that Russia would betaking place in the country near the northern borders of Ukraine, which brought a large contingent of Russian troops to Belarus.
In anticipation of an attack, the United States and other allies, most recently Germany and Austria, have urged their citizens to leave the country. The United States Embassy in Ukraine alsoits operations from Kiev to Lviv due to the accelerating build-up of Russian forces.
The U.S. Embassy in Moscow issued a security alert on Sunday warning that “according to media sources, there have been threats of attacks on shopping malls, railway and metro stations and other places public gatherings in major urban areas, including Moscow and St. Petersburg, as well as in areas of heightened tension along Russia’s border with Ukraine.”
The State Department alert urges U.S. citizens in Russia to take several steps, including avoiding crowds and having evacuation plans that do not depend on federal government assistance.
While senior US officials have warned that Russia is about to strike Ukraine and the Pentagon has sent about 5,000 troops to Eastern Europe to bolster NATO forces, the Biden administration continues to keep a diplomatic option on the table. The president stressed that no American forces would go to Ukraine if Russia invaded.
“My job as a diplomat is to leave no stone unturned and see if we can prevent war, and if there’s anything I can do to do it, I will do it,” Blinken said Sunday. “President Biden has made it clear that he is ready to meet with President Putin at any time, in any format, if it can help prevent a war. Even if the die is cast, until that is settled, until we know the tanks are rolling, the planes are flying and the aggression has fully begun, we’re going to do everything we can to prevent it, but we’re prepared anyway.”
Oksana Markarova, Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, said Ukrainian officials were using “every possibility” to force Russia to choose the diplomatic path over an attack.
“We call not only [the] the aggressor, which is Russia, but also to all of our friends and allies to come together and use every opportunity to further deter Russia from invading,” she said.
Markarova said that while Ukraine “will work day and night to use any opportunity to prevent Russia from further invading”, the events of the past few days indicate that an escalation is likely, contrary to the comments of the ambassador of Russia in the United States, Anatoly Antonov, according to whichfor Russia to invade.
“What we are seeing right now is that all the strong messages have not yet led Russia not only to step out of Ukraine’s borders, but also to launch an offensive in the last three days” , she said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also called on Putin to meet him to work on resolving the crisis, but he alsogathered at a security conference in Munich on Saturday, saying they should not wait for an attack to hit Russia with sanctions.
thethat if Putin ordered an attack on Ukraine, there would be dire consequences for Russia, and Blinken said on Sunday that slapping Russia with sanctions now would mean losing “the deterrent effect.”
“Once you trigger the sanctions, you lose the deterrent effect,” he said. “As long as there is one minute of time left in which we can deter and prevent a war, we will try to use it.”
Blinken added that the United States does not want to publicly detail its plans because “that will warn Russia.”