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President Biden: Russian occupation in February, obvious possibility

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The White House said President Joe Biden on Thursday warned Ukraine’s president that there was a “visible possibility” that Russia would take military action against Ukraine in February. The Kremlin also presented a bleak picture, saying it saw “little room for optimism” in resolving the crisis, as the US this week again rejected key demands from Russia.

Russian officials said dialogue was still possible to end the crisis, but President Biden offered a clear warning amid growing concerns that Russian President Vladimir Putin would give the green light for an invasion of Ukrainian territory, in a not too distant future.

The White House said President Biden’s comments during a telephone conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, reinforced concerns that administration officials have long raised.

” President Biden said there is a clear possibility that the Russians could invade Ukraine in February ,” said White House National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne.

” He has said this publicly and we have been warning about it for months, ” she added.

Russia: Little room for optimism to ease tensions

Earlier on Thursday, Russia said there was “little room for optimism” about easing tensions in Eastern Europe after US officials said the United States had rejected its request that Ukraine not be allowed to join NATO and that the West should withdraw. troops and armaments from countries bordering Russia.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the US response to its demands “was not positive”, but added that some elements of it could lead to “the start of serious talks on secondary issues”. The United States and its European allies have rejected Moscow’s main demands, calling them unacceptable.

The senior Kremlin diplomat said officials would present proposals to President Vladimir Putin. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow would react soon, adding that ” there is always the opportunity to continue the dialogue. It is in our and the Americans ‘ interest.”

Officials from Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany held talks in Paris on Wednesday and agreed on another round of talks to be held in Berlin in the second week of February. The parties agreed on a formal ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, according to Dmitry Kozak, the Kremlin envoy.

” We need an additional break. We hope this process will have results within two weeks ,” he said.

The February talks will take place at the same diplomatic level as the Paris talks. No high-level meeting between the heads of state is on the agenda.

” Nothing has changed, this is bad news, ” said Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. ” The good news is that the advisers agreed to meet in Berlin in two weeks, which means that Russia for the next two weeks is likely to stay on the diplomatic path .”

The United States and its European allies, fearing that Russia could soon invade Ukraine, continue to protest the gathering of more than 100,000 Russian troops along its border with the former Soviet republic, although Moscow says it has no plans. to attack.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the document, which the United States handed to Russia, ” includes the concerns of the United States, our allies and partners about Russia’s actions that undermine security – a principled and pragmatic assessment of the concerns that Russia has raised. ” and our proposals for issues where we can find common ground ”.

US President Joe Biden, while ruling out sending US troops to Ukraine, has repeatedly warned Russia that the West will impose tough economic sanctions on it if it attacks Ukraine.

Mr Peskov said Presidents Putin and Biden would decide whether to hold further talks on the diplomatic stalemate following two telephone calls last month.

Mr Kuleba said Kiev had seen the US response to Russia before surrendering to Moscow.

” There was no opposition from the Ukrainian side ,” Mr Kuleba said. ” It is important that the US remains in close contact with Ukraine, before and after all contacts with Russia. There are no decisions for Ukraine without Ukraine. This is the golden rule ,” he said.

Something that Secretary Blinken agreed with. In a Twitter post, he wrote: ” Nothing for Ukraine, without Ukraine .”

As Russia, the United States and its allies exchange demands, both sides have stepped up military preparations. Russia has launched military exercises involving motorized infantry and artillery units in southwestern Russia, fighter jets at Kaliningrad in the Baltic Sea, dozens of warships in the Black Sea and the Arctic, as well as Russian fighter jets and paratroopers in Belarus.

NATO, the 30-nation Western military alliance, said it was increasing its presence in the Baltic Sea region and the US had placed 8,500 troops on high alert, ready to deploy to Europe as part of an operation. NATO.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said US forces currently in Europe, some already on high alert, could also be mobilized ” to bolster the presence of our NATO allies if they needed to .”

” We continue to see, including in the last 24 hours, more accumulation of fighting forces by the Russians in the western part of their country and in Belarus ,” he told reporters on Thursday.

Mr. Kirby also said that the US is preparing additional assistance to the Ukrainian army, in addition to that sent in recent days.

” We are just starting a whole new aid package,” he said, declining to share details about the content. “We are trying to see if we can accelerate them ,” Mr Kirby added.

Mr Kuleba said Ukraine was not planning any offensive action and that Kiev expected diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis along the Russia-Ukraine border to continue.

” We are committed to the diplomatic path and are ready to engage with Russia at various levels to find (a) diplomatic solution to the conflict ,” Mr Kuleba told a news conference. ” However, if Russia decides to fight, we will respond. This is our country and we will defend it ,” he said.

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