Biden says convinced 'Putin made decision to invade Ukraine'
US President Joe Biden says there are reasons to believe Russian forces intend to "attack" Ukraine and "target" Kyiv, and stresses that Washington is ready to impose heavy sanctions on Moscow.
US President Joe Biden said Friday that as of this moment, he is convinced that Russian President Vladimir Putin has made his decision to "invade" Ukraine and is trying to show that he can change the dynamics of the world.
Addressing Americans during an update on the Ukrainian crisis, Biden claimed he saw a major "uptick" in violations of the ceasefire in the Donbas region, alleged that there is no evidence that Ukraine is planning to carry out an offensive.
I spoke today with Transatlantic Allies and partners to discuss Russia’s military build-up in and around Ukraine. We agreed on our support for Ukraine, to continue diplomatic efforts, and affirmed our readiness to impose massive costs on Russia should it choose further conflict.— President Biden (@POTUS) February 18, 2022
The US president Biden assumed that there are reasons to believe Russian forces intend to "attack" Ukraine and "target" Kyiv in the upcoming weeks or days, reiterating that he will not send US troops to fight in Ukraine, but will continue to support Kyiv.
He also stressed Washington is ready to impose heavy sanctions on Moscow.
The Democrat said it is not too late to return to the negotiating table to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis, noting that he does not think Putin is considering using nuclear weapons.
US: SWIFT system not included in possible sanctions against Russia
In the same context, US Deputy National Security Adviser for International Economics Daleep Singh said Friday that all options are still on the table for the sanctions package to impose against Moscow in the event of an alleged Russian "invasion" of Ukraine.
However, Singh noted that actions that target access to the SWIFT payment system are unlikely to be seen initially.
"We have other severe measures we can take that our allies and partners are ready to take in lockstep with us that don’t have the same spillover effects," the diplomat bragged during a White House press briefing.
It is noteworthy that Russia's Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev had expressed that Moscow's disconnection from SWIFT would be "no fatal catastrophe."
Blinken accepts Lavrov's invitation to meet
Earlier, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accepted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's offer to have a bilateral engagement about the Ukraine situation on February 23.
"Our Secretary of State has accepted the invitation to have a meeting with [Russian] Foreign Minister Lavrov, or engage with him, next Wednesday," she confirmed during a press briefing.
Biden to participate in G7 virtual meeting
In the same context, Psaki also confirmed that US President Joe Biden will participate in virtual discussions over the Ukrainian crisis with G7 leaders during a meeting on Thursday.
"The President will participate in a virtual G7 Leaders Meeting to discuss the ongoing situation with regard to Russia and Ukraine and priorities of the German G7 Presidency this year," she said.
NATO and several Western countries have accused Russia in recent months of preparing an "attack in Ukraine," based on allegations that Russia has increased the number of its soldiers in areas near the Ukrainian border to 125,000 people.
For its part, Moscow rejects all these accusations, noting that the transfer of its forces in its territory is an internal matter.
Earlier, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, accused the United States of "running the media campaign about the so-called (the imminent Russian invasion) of Ukraine."