Biden says Russia most likely to invade Ukraine in days
After news broke that Russia has expelled a top U.S. diplomat from Moscow, President Joe Biden on Thursday gave his assessment on the situation on the Russia-Ukraine border.
Biden told reporters before boarding Marine One that the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine is “very high” and that the U.S. has “reason to believe they are engaged in a false flag operation,” according to a White House pool report.
When asked if Russia is “going through with it,” Biden responded, “yes.”
“My sense is that it will happen within the next several days,” he said, while adding that a diplomatic path is still available.
Biden’s comments came soon after it was reported that Russia expelled U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission to Russia Bart Gorman, the second-most senior official at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, according to a State Department spokesperson.
“Russia’s action against our DCM was unprovoked and we consider this an escalatory step and are considering our response,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
“We call on Russia to end its baseless expulsions of U.S. diplomats and staff and to work productively to rebuild our missions. Now more than ever, it is critical that our countries have the necessary diplomatic personnel in place to facilitate communication between our governments.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken was set to give remarks at the U.N. Security Council on Thursday morning, but Biden told reporters that he asked Blinken to make the statement to lay out the path to diplomacy.
“The evidence on the ground is that Russia is moving toward an imminent invasion,” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said on Twitter.
He added that “This is a crucial moment. Today’s Council meeting should not distract us from that. It should focus on what is happening right now in Ukraine.”
While Russian officials continue to claim that they are pulling back troops, the U.S. is saying the opposite is true. A senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday that Russia has increased its military presence on the Ukrainian border “by as many as 7,000 troops.”
Biden had previously said that there were about 150,000 Russian troops on the border.
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