Biden ‘Convinced’ Putin Has Made Decision To Invade Ukraine

President Joe Biden on Friday said he is “convinced” Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to invade Ukraine, stating he has “reason to believe” it will occur in the “coming days” and include an assault on capital city Kyiv.

After weeks of saying he was not sure if Putin had made a final decision on whether to launch a widespread invasion, President Biden said that assessment had now changed.

“As of this moment I’m convinced he’s made the decision,” Biden said. “We have reason to believe that.”

Biden cited “significant intelligence capability” for the assessment.

Biden reiterated that there would be massive economic and diplomatic sanctions against Russia if it does invade, and pressed Putin to rethink his course of action.

Russia has massed between 169,000 and 190,000 personnel in and near Ukraine, up from about 100,000 on Jan. 30, said Michael Carpenter, the permanent U.S. representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

In addition to troops along the border in neighboring Belarus and in Crimea, he said the estimate includes Russian-led forces in eastern Ukraine and also internal security units deployed to these areas. It was unclear if these forces were included in the most recent estimate of 150,000 troops.

The president said assertions from the Kremlin that Ukraine is preparing an attack of its own are false. “It defies basic logic to believe the Ukrainians would choose this moment, with 150,000 troops on its border, to escalate a yearlong conflict,” he said Friday.

There is a planned meeting on Feb. 24 between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. However, Biden said military action before then will signal the end of diplomacy.

“If Russia pursues its plans, it will be responsible for a needless and catastrophic war of choice,” Biden said Friday.

Biden warned earlier in the week that if Russia invades Ukraine, the U.S. “will rally the world to oppose its aggression.”

“We are not seeking direct conflict with Russia,” Biden said, and that war would be a “war of choice” and a “self-inflicted wound.”

The Senate voted Thursday overwhelmingly to show unwavering support for an independent Ukraine and “condemn” Russian military aggression toward its neighbor but declined to pass sanctions amid partisan gridlock.

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