President Joe Biden on Friday, February 18, stated that he was convinced that Russian President Vladimir Putin had decided to invade Ukraine. However, he also did not rule out the possibility of resolving the crisis through diplomacy.
"As of this moment I'm convinced he has made the decision. We have reason to believe that," the head of the White House stated.
According to Biden, the Kremlin is using the events in Donbas as a pretext for an invasion.
"Over the last few days, we have seen reports of a major uptick in violations of the ceasefire by Russian-backed fighters attempting to provoke Ukraine in Donbas," Biden said.
He pointed to numerous examples of disinformation that, according to him, were spread by Russian state media, including fake claims about the genocide in Donbas.
Biden stressed that the claims of the Russians are simply meaningless.
"It defies basic logic to believe the Ukrainians would choose this moment, with well over 150,000 troops arrayed on its borders, to escalate a yearlong conflict," he said.
Context. The last time the U.S. President spoke about Ukraine was on Thursday. Then he stressed that there were "all indications that the Russian invasion of Ukraine will take place in the next few days," and the threat of an attack is "very high."
U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Michael Carpenter warned on Friday that the U.S. had detected a significant buildup of Russian forces near the Ukrainian border over the past two weeks.
"Probably Russia has concentrated between 169,000 and 190,000 troops in and near Ukraine against about 100,000 as of January 30," he said in a statement at the OSCE meeting. This includes Russian troops on Ukraine's borders, as well as Russian-led forces in eastern Ukraine that were not included in U.S. preliminary estimates of Russian forces in the region.
Also on Friday, the White House announced that it was accusing Russia of the massive cyberattack in Ukraine earlier in the week, CNN reports.
"We believe that the Russian government is responsible for widescale cyberattacks on Ukrainian banks this week… Russia likes to move in the shadows and counts on a long process of attribution so it can continue its malicious behavior against Ukraine in cyberspace, including pre-positioning for its potential invasion," Anne Neuberger, deputy national security advisor for cyber and emerging technology, stated.
Biden predicted a Russian invasion of Ukraine before, but said that Putin had not yet made a final decision. The American President was betting on the success of diplomacy to prevent a full-scale attack.