Biden 'convinced' Putin has made decision to invade Ukraine as crisis with Russia escalates

"We have significant intelligence capability," he said.

February 18, 2022, 6:27 PM

President Joe Biden spoke to the nation Friday on the crisis with Russia over Ukraine, amid increased shelling in eastern Ukraine and possible false-flag attacks he said Russia could use to falsely justify an invasion.

Answering questions afterward, he appeared to go further than he has before about what Russian President Vladimir Putin might do, saying, "As of this moment, I am convinced he has made the decision" to invade.

When asked if this means that diplomacy is off the table, Biden said, "no" and said until he invades, "diplomacy is also a possibility."

Pressed why he was confident in his assessment, he responded, "We have significant intelligence capability."

In his prepared remarks, Biden said, "We have reason to believe the Russian forces are planning to and intend to attack Ukraine in the coming week -- the coming days. We believe that they will target Ukraine's capitol of Kiev, a city of 2.8 million innocent people. We're calling out Russia's plans loudly and repeatedly not because we want a conflict," Biden said, but to prevent them from moving.

He made the remarks after he held a call with translatlantic leaders to discuss continued efforts at deterrence and diplomacy and what the White House called "Russia's buildup of military troops on the border of Ukraine." He said he spoke with members of Congress attending the Munich Security Conference as well.

"Despite Russia's efforts to divide us at home and abroad, I can affirm that has not happened. The overwhelming message on both calls was one of unity, determination and resolve," Biden said.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participated in the call, along with the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, the United Kingdom, the EU, and NATO, according to Trudeau's office.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden delivers remarks on his administration's efforts to pursue deterrence and diplomacy in response to Russia's military buildup on the border of Ukraine, from the White House in Washington, Feb. 18, 2022.
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on his administration's efforts to pursue deterrence and diplomacy in response to Russia's military buildup on the border of Ukraine, from the White House in Washington, Feb. 18, 2022.
Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

On Friday, the leader of Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine called for his supporters to begin a mass evacuation to Russia, claiming Ukraine was readying for an invasion of the region. Ukraine immediately denied the claim.

The Biden administration has repeatedly warned Moscow will likely manufacture Ukrainian provocations to justify an invasion of its smaller neighbor.

PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during a joint news conference with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko following their talks in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Feb. 18, 2022.
Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during a joint news conference with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko following their talks in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Feb. 18, 2022.
Sergei Guneyev/Sputnik/Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Putin Friday warned the situation is "escalating," appearing to place blame on Ukraine.

"All Kyiv needs to do is sit down at the negotiating table with representatives of Donbas and agree on political, military, economic and humanitarian measures to end the conflict," Putin said Friday during a news conference alongside the leader of Belarus.

But Putin continues to demand assurances from the West that Ukraine will never join NATO, a concession U.S. officials are unwilling to make.

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