President Joe Biden had a 1-on-1 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday and according to an anonymous source – it could not have gone worse.
The call between the two leaders was intended to discuss the potential military conflict between Ukraine and Russia but a report citing an anonymous source said the call “did not go well.”
The call reportedly lasted one hour and 20 minutes and was described as candid by the two leaders, but the two countries reportedly did not see eye to eye on how much a threat Russia truly posed.
On the call, which the Ukrainian official described as “long and frank,” Biden warned his Ukrainian counterpart that a Russian attack may be imminent, saying that an invasion was now virtually certain, once the ground had frozen later in February, according to the official.
Zelensky, however, said his position was that the threat from Russia remains “dangerous but ambiguous,” and it is not certain that an attack will take place, the official said.
CNN’s Alexander Marquardt gave more insight, claiming that insider sources told CNN that Biden told Zelensky point-blank that Ukraine was about to be “sacked.”
“A Russian invasion is now virtually certain once the ground freezes, Biden said to Zelensky, a senior Ukrainian official told @mchancecnn . Kyiv could be “sacked,” Russian forces may attempt to occupy it, “prepare for impact”, Biden said, according to this official,” Marquardt tweeted.
That White House attempted to deny that the president ever said this, with National Security Council spokesman Emily Horne tweeting, “This is not true. President Biden said that there is a distinct possibility that the Russians could invade Ukraine in February. He has previously said this publicly & we have been warning about this for months. Reports of anything more or different than that are completely false.”
Another White House spokesperson claimed, “Anonymous sources are ‘leaking falsehoods.’”
According to a White House readout of the call, Biden also said that the United States and allies would respond if Russia further invaded Ukrainian territory and would continue to look for ways to assist the country.
Biden further said that the evacuation of family members of American diplomatic personnel should not be seen as a sign that the United States was not committed to the safety and security of Ukraine.
Ukrainians were reportedly surprised by Biden’s comments that it was likely that Putin would invade their country.
“My guess is he will move in, he has to do something.” Biden said about Putin last week at a press conference, suggesting the U.S. and NATO might not respond as forcefully to a “minor incursion.”
The president’s comments were immediately clarified by the White House, but they raised questions about his commitment to blocking Russia from invading.
Biden and Zelensky have had a rocky relationship ever since Biden ignored the Ukrainian’s pleas for the U.S. president to impose sanctions on Russia which could have prevented the situation from escalating to this point.
“For us, it is important to have sanctions applied before, rather than after, the conflict would happen, because if they were applied after the conflict would happen, this would basically make them meaningless,” Zelensky said.
Biden also lifted sanctions on Putin’s Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline, essentially greenlighting it for Putin, which Zelensky admitted made him “unpleasantly surprised.” The pipeline would bypass Ukraine to provide energy to Europe, giving Putin more economic leverage.
Author: Jackson Marshall