President Joe Biden in his most forceful speech yet said he’s convinced that Russian President Putin has made the decision to invade Ukraine. Speaking from the White House shortly before 5 p.m. on Friday afternoon, President Biden stated that the Russians have made the final decision to invade. You can watch Biden’s full address below.
“We have reason to believe the Russian forces are planning to, intend to, attack Ukraine in the coming week, in the coming days,” the president said. “We believe that they will target Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, a city of 2.8 million innocent people.”
“We’re calling out Russia’s plans loudly and repeatedly … we’re doing everything in our power to remove any reason Russia may give to justify invading Ukraine and prevent them from moving. Make no mistake: if Russia pursues its plans, it will be responsible for a catastrophic and needless war of choice,” Biden said.
This was a departure from what the president had been saying for several weeks that no one knew what Putin was thinking, but today he removed all doubt where Washington stands in regard to if it believes that Russia will invade. As he was pressed to confirm this at the end of his news conference if Putin and Russia would indeed invade Ukraine. “Yes”, he said and was asked again why he believed it now.
“We have a significant intelligence capability,” he answered.
Russia to Evacuate Civilians From Donbas An Gloomy Sign
Western leaders have been saying for weeks that Russia is trying to create a false pretext for invading Ukraine. And on Friday, a Russian-proxy separatist leader, Denis Pushilin, head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic said that he ordered the evacuation of women, children, and elderly civilians due to the threat of a large Ukrainian offensive that Moscow keeps trying to insist is coming.
Pushilin, speaking on Russian national television said that he expected war to begin in short order. It is probably the pretext that the Russians are looking for to invade. “As of today, Feb. 18, a mass centralized evacuation of the population to the Russian Federation has been organized,” Pushilin said.
Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a released statement, “We categorically refute Russian disinformation reports on Ukraine’s alleged offensive operations or acts of sabotage in chemical production facilities. Ukraine does not conduct or plan any such actions in the Donbas. We are fully committed to diplomatic conflict resolution only.”
President Biden also denied that Ukraine would be threatening offensive action, stating it was logical, that with 150,000 Russian troops poised on their borders, they wouldn’t attempt anything. Some military analysts now believe that the number of Russian troops could be as high as 190,000.
Car Bomb Blast in Donetsk, Allegedly Targets Separatist Police Leader
A car bomb blast in the separatist-held area of Donetsk set off fears the Russian were manufacturing a “false flag” operation in order to justify a ground invasion. Meanwhile, Russian-backed separatists have fired more than 600 rounds of 152mm and 122mm artillery and large mortars, and even some tank rounds into Ukraine.
The vehicle, a Russian-made Jeep, which was reported to belong to the head of police for the Donetsk People’s Republic, was allegedly targeted by Ukrainian officials and exploded outside an administration building in the city of Donetsk.
There were no reported injuries.
Russian President Putin met with his ally, President Lukashenko of Belarus on Friday and stated that “Right now we are seeing a deterioration of the situation.”
Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. He has served as a US Army Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer before injuries forced his early separation. In addition to writing for 19fortyfive.com, he has covered the NFL for PatsFans.com for more than 10 years and his work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.