Biden says Putin has decided to invade Ukraine

President says US and its Western allies are more united than ever to ensure Russia pays a price for the invasion

US President Joe Biden. — AP
US President Joe Biden. — AP

By Agencies

Published: Sat 19 Feb 2022, 2:56 AM

Last updated: Sat 19 Feb 2022, 3:27 AM

US President Joe Biden said on Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to invade Ukraine, and that he continues to spread false information to try to build a pretext for a military strike that could happen in days.

“As of this moment I am convinced that he has made the decision (to invade),” Biden told reporters in Washington. “We have reason to believe that,” he added, citing US intelligence assessments.

Biden reiterated his threat of massive economic and diplomatic sanctions against Russia if it does invade, and pressed Putin to rethink his course of action. He said the US and its Western allies were more united than ever to ensure Russia pays a price for the invasion.


Biden questioned whether it was a “wise choice” for his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky to leave the country, after warning a Russian invasion appeared imminent.

“In the pursuit of a diplomatic solution, it may not be, it may be the wise choice. But it’s his decision,” Biden said during a press conference, when asked about Zelenksy’s intention to travel to this weekend’s Munich Security Conference.

On Friday, a humanitarian convoy was hit by shelling and pro-Russian rebels evacuated civilians from the conflict zone. A car bombing hit the eastern city of Donetsk, but no casualties were reported.

Biden's comments came after a phone call with the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, Britain, the European Union and NATO, the White House said.

The leaders pledged to continue pursuing diplomacy while preparing to impose swift, coordinated economic costs on Russia should it choose further conflict, according to a White House readout of the call.

They also discussed efforts to ensure the defence and security of NATO’s eastern flank, the White House said.

Biden’s administration has said a diplomatic solution remains possible if Russia chooses, but that Washington and its European allies are prepared to enact harsh punishments if Moscow opts to invade.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov planned to meet on February 24 in Europe, Biden said, but he warned any Russian military action before that would show Russia has “slammed the door shut on diplomacy”.

Meanwhile, US Vice-President Kamala Harris met NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg at the Munich Security Conference on Friday, expressing concern amid the build-up and vowing to stay in close contact with NATO and US allies.

“We feel very strongly about and will always be committed to the principle of territorial integrity and sovereignty,” Harris told reporters. “We remain of course supportive of diplomacy as it relates to the dialogue and discussions we’ve had with Russia, but we are also committed to taking corrective actions.”

Blinken also addressed the conference on Friday, saying Washington remained “deeply concerned” that Russia was planning to attack Ukraine within days.

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin also urged de-escalation in a call with his Russian counterpart on Friday, the Pentagon said.

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