Last night, Western leaders pledged to create a “united front” over Russian hostility and threats toward Ukraine.
Before today’s crucial call between Joe Biden, Vladimir Putin, and France, leaders from the US, UK and Italy demanded that Moscow de-escalate tensions.
They also discussed the possibility of sanctions being imposed on President Putin’s government in case he invades Ukraine. Boris Johnson vowed to make use of all diplomatic and economic tools available to him.
It is believed that the leaders devised an approach to inflict significant economic damage on Russia.
Satellite images show increasing numbers of Russian troops massing on the border of Ukraine – as many as 175,000 according to US analysts.
The Times reports that the NATO is considering measures to cut Russia out of the international financial settlements system.
Biden, President of the United States, is likely to call to inform Eastern Europe that the US will send ‘additional force and capabilities’ in case there’s an invasion.
It is thought that he wouldn’t go as far as to threaten an immediate US military response. According to a Downing Street spokesperson, the leaders stressed the importance of forming a united front against Russian hostility and threats.
Dmitry Peskov (Kremlin spokesperson) confirmed that plans were being made for the highly-anticipated call this weekend, and stated it would occur tonight.
Russia insists that the US must guarantee Ukraine’s exclusion from the NATO military alliance.
While the Biden administration did not rule out sending more US troops to Eastern Europe in the event of a Putin-invaded Ukraine, sources say there are no plans to direct military action against Putin.
The White House spokeswoman said Monday that Biden met with the leaders of France and Germany on Monday and discussed their common concern over Russia’s militarization of Ukraine and Russia’s increasing harsh rhetoric.
According to the White House, “The leaders reiterated their support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Reports claim that Biden would threaten Putin by imposing’substantial’ economic sanctions on him if he invades Ukraine. Similar to economic sanctions placed on Iran in response to its attempt to build a nuclear weapon, they are likely to be similar.
Putin’s plans would be similar to Iran’s isolation for not adhering to the nuclear agreement.
Joe Biden (seen Monday) will phone Vladimir Putin on Tuesday to speak with him
Ukrainian soldiers and military machinery take part in the Day of the Armed Forces of Ukraine celebrations held in Kharkiv, Monday
Biden and Putin met at Geneva in June, their first encounter since Biden assumed control of the White House. On Tuesday, they will talk by telephone
Russian President Vladimir Putin made preparations for the invasion of Ukraine. However, it’s not known if he made that decision. A top administration official stated this.
Putin has made preparations to invade Ukraine but it’s unclear he’s made the final decision to do so, a senior administration official said on Monday.
If Moscow launched an attack, the official said that they were ready to provide a “combination support for Ukraine’s military, strong countermeasures, as well as substantial increases in the support and capability of our NATO allies”.
Before Biden called Putin on Tuesday, the official gave a briefing to reporters about the current situation in Ukraine.
Taking a tough tone ahead of the conversation between the two leaders, the official noted that the U.S. and Europeans are prepared to place ‘substantial economic’ sanctions on Russia should Putin invade the Ukraine – a message President Biden will send during the virtual talk with his Russian counterpart.
Although the official didn’t say the United States would send troops to Ukraine in order to assist President Volodymyrzelsky, he did state that the US would provide reassurance for NATO Allies by sending additional forces to support them in case of invasion.
“To make it clear, we don’t know if Putin has taken a decision to escalate military tensions in Ukraine. We do know, however that Putin is making preparations to allow for such an escalation if he chooses to. The senior official from the administration said that we’d seen similar Russian tactics in 2014.
“We have witnessed the movement of additional capability and forces into the area of Ukraine in many different areas. These movements correspond with plans that are underway to escalate military operations in Ukraine.
According to the official, Russia can still take a different course and that the Biden administration encourages Moscow to “return to dialog through diplomatic avenues.”
The White House announced Monday night: ‘Today President Emmanuel Macron (France), Chancellor Angela Merkel (Germany), Prime Minister Mario Draghi (Italy), Prime Minister Boris Johnson (UK) and President Biden (USA) held a telephone call.
“The Russian military build-up along Ukraine’s border and Russia’s increasing harsh rhetoric were discussed by the leaders.
“They called upon Russia to reduce tensions, and they agreed that diplomacy through the Normandy Format is the best way to end the conflict in Donbass through the implementation the Minsk Agreements.
“The leaders affirmed their support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence.”
They agreed that they would keep in close contact, even with NATO partners and allies. This will ensure a comprehensive and coordinated approach.
According to Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Monday said that the main topic in Biden’s and Putin’s conversations will be Ukraine.
She stated that despite the fact that it was a chance to talk about a variety of issues in the US-Russia relationship, including cyber security and regional issues and strategic stability, you can expect the US’ concerns regarding the military activities at the border to be an important part of the conversation during her Tuesday press conference.
On Monday, troops were seen in Ukraine taking part in the Day of the Armed Forces celebrations.
Only 30 miles away from Russia’s border is Kharkiv where troops can be seen.
As President Zelensky salutes Kharkiv’s troops on Monday, the flag of Ukraine flies.
“I feel that our objective since the inception of the President’s term in office was not to increase the relationship but to establish a stronger foundation,” she stated.
She added that the president would not hesitate to express his concern.
Her comments also referred to Russia’s 2014 invasion of Crimea.
‘If you take a look at 2014, it is clear that another outcome here is that the countries on the eastern flank of NATO will, in many cases, seek out reassurances from the United States. It was something I thought of as a continuation to 2014. Russia does not want to see that. However, that would be an obvious consequence if they moved forward,” she stated.
Psaki responded to questions about whether Biden’s diplomacy with Putin might be effective in preventing an invasion. This approach was not successful in 2014, when Russia took over the Crimea.
“We will wait to see if they’re there, but our goal first and foremost is stop military progress like we saw in 2014,” she stated.
She said that the call was not going to be about “threatening” her. “It’s all about communicating the correct path forward, and that is done through diplomacy.
Volodymyr Zeleskyy, Ukrainian president, presents a medal to a soldier stationed in a trench, as he visited the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine.
Maxar Technologies released this handout satellite image on November 1st 2021. It shows the presence a large ground force deployment at the northern end of Yelnya (Smolensk Oblast), Russia.
U.S. intelligence personnel have discovered that Russia has deployed about 70,000 troops to the border of Ukraine. The action has been compared to Moscow’s 2014 annexation the Crimean Peninsula.
Ahead of Biden and Putin’s conversation, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken spoke with Zelensky.
According to the official, Biden will contact the Ukrainian president within the next few days after his meeting with Putin.
Zelensky indicated that he had spoken with Blinken and agreed to keep the ‘joint action and coordinated effort’ going.
‘Agreed to continue joint & concerted action. Grateful to U.S. strategic partners & allies for the continued support of our sovereignty & territorial integrity. Zelensky posted on Twitter, “Nothing about Ukraine is complete without Ukraine.”
According to the official, the U.S. would also support its NATO allies in this region.
Zelensky tried to make Ukraine a full member of the alliance. However, that has yet to happen.
Additionally, the State Department stated that any Russian aggression toward Ukraine would be countered.
Ned Price, a spokesperson, stated that Russia could move ahead with its plans to continue military aggression against Ukraine or invade its territory militarily to inflict its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. We would all be ready to take action if Russia does so.
“There shouldn’t be any ambiguity regarding our determination to achieve this.” He said that they had made it clear, in both public and private, at every opportunity.
An official suggested that the U.S. might deploy to Eastern Europe in case Russia invades. He said there would be a positive reaction from the United States to have additional capabilities, forces, and exercises put in place in order to protect our allies on our east flank in the event of such aggression in Ukraine.
“I believe you can anticipate that in an invasion, it would be necessary to strengthen the confidence of NATO allies, our eastern flank alies, and that the United States would offer that kind of assurance,” the official explained.
Spokesman for Downing Street said that leaders had agreed that the recent meetings of G20 and Nato foreign ministers were good forums to discuss this matter. In the face of Russian threats, hostility, they stressed the necessity to unite.
The Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen in public on Thursday. Putin has been accusing the West of provocation with their invitation to Ukraine join NATO.
“Leaders called for Russia to calm tensions and reinforced their commitment to Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
“The Prime Minister reiterated his points to President Putin earlier in the year, which the Foreign Secretary made last week to her Russian counterpart. According to the Prime Minister, the UK will continue to employ all diplomatic and economic tools available to stop any Russian aggression towards Ukraine.
“The leaders have agreed to talk again after President Biden’s discussion with President Putin tomorrow.”
Their diplomacy comes after a report on Friday suggested that Russia is planning a possible military offensive against Ukraine involving an estimated 175,000 troops that could begin as soon as early 2022.
The Washington Post was able to obtain unclassified intelligence that included satellite images of troops and equipment at the Ukrainian border.
Photographs taken June near Yelnya (near the border of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus) showed no land. The photos revealed that five Battalion Tactical Groups, (BTGs), were already in place by November 9.
Similar scenes occurred near Crimea on the Russian-Ukrainian frontier in 2014. Then, Russia took the strategically important port at the Black Sea.
An administration official said that the Russian plans called for a military attack against Ukraine in 2022. This would include a force size twice as large as what was seen during Russia’s spring exercise at Ukraine’s border.
Maxar Technologies published a satellite photo on November 1 showing soldiers assemble near Yelnya. Washington is announcing this warning as Putin masses his troops near Ukrainian territory. Satellite images such as these taken over the past few weeks show large tanks and artillery pieces scattered throughout the area.
Ukraine claims that there are currently 94,000 Russian soldiers close to its border. This is where the country has been fighting an a long-running insurgency by Russian-backed separatists in its eastern region for years.
“The plan calls for the movement of large numbers of tactical 100-battalion battalion groups, with approximately 175,000 personnel. This includes armor and artillery.
Ukrainian assessment have indicated that Russia holds approximately 94,000 troops close to the border. However, the U.S. thinks the number is closer to 70,000.
The US government expects an increase of 175,000 and says that significant movements will occur at the border by battalion tactical teams ‘to confuse intentions and create uncertainty’
“Equipment might be left behind at various training ranges in order to facilitate a rapid and final buildup,” the document says.
Biden, leaving the White House to go Camp David said that he was aware for some time of Russia’s actions and that he expected to continue the discussion.
Russian state media published footage on Friday of military drills and sniper training that took place at the Ukrainian frontier.
Russian soldiers are seen performing sniper exercise with 700-gunmen and servicemen on the ground, in snowy conditions.
Russian military personnel were captured training with rocket-propelled bomber launchers in the midst of tensions about the more than 94,000 Ukrainian soldiers at the Ukraine border.
Asking him if Putin’s redline – Ukraine should not be a NATO member – he replied, “I will’t accept anyone’s redline.”
Putin stated this week that Russia requires ‘precise legal and judicial guarantees’ because Western counterparts have not fulfilled verbal promises they made.
According to him, a specific agreement should ‘exclude any eastward expansion by NATO or the deployment of weapon systems that pose a threat for us on Russian territory’.
The Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Sergei Lavrov met on Thursday.
Moscow would be paying’severe’ costs if Russia invaded Ukraine. Blinken urged Russia’s counterpart to reach a diplomatic solution.
Anthony Blinken is seen with Sergei Lavrov in Stockholm, Thursday, as the U.S. Secretary-of-State.
On October 18, Russian troops were seen in Crimea conducting exercises. The U.S. believes there is troop buildup in Crimea. It was seized by Russia from Ukraine in 2014. A BTR-82A armored personnel car lands on a large land ship in an amphibious landing exercise. It was landed from an improved shore that is held by the Opuk Range’s army corps and naval infantry unit. This drill involved more than 8,000 soldiers and approximately 350 military equipment and weapons.
Blinken warned the Russian Foreign Minister during a meeting in Stockholm he called “candid”. He stated that Biden was most likely to speak shortly with Vladimir Putin.
After the meeting, Blinken stated that he had made clear his deep concern and determination to hold Russia accountable for its actions. He also pledged to collaborate with European allies in imposing severe consequences and costs on Russia if it continues aggressively against Ukraine.
“It’s up to Russia now to ease tensions, reverse recent troop buildsup, return troops to normal peacetime position and avoid further intimidation and attempts destabilize Ukraine.
Lavrov said to reporters that Moscow was open for dialogue with Kyiv when he spoke with Blinken.
According to him, ‘We do not want conflicts’, as Putin stated.
Blinken, before the meeting, stated: ‘We don’t know whether President Putin has made the decision to invade.
We know that he’s putting together the capability to do this quickly should he choose.
“We should be prepared for any contingencies.”
According to a Biden administration official speaking to Associated Press, the new intelligence finding was published Friday and estimates that about half of Russian personnel have been deployed at various locations near Ukraine’s borders.
Russian and Belarusian troops participate in Zapad-2021 military exercises in Brest, Belarus on September 14,
The border of Belarus with NATO members was patrolled by a combined tactical unit from Russia and Belarus consisting of Su-30SM fighters.
Caesar Kunikov and the Novorossiysk large landing vessels take part in an amphibious landing exercise on a unimproved beach in Crimea, October
During the Crimea exercises (October), you will see the Saratov large land ship and Mil Mi-8AMTSh helicopters.
A Crimean air assault team lands at an exercise for amphibious landings in October in Crimea
Russia is imposing its demands upon Biden in order to ensure that Ukraine cannot join NATO.
Officials from intelligence have also noticed an increase in Russian propaganda operations’ use proxy and media outlets to denigrate Ukraine and NATO before a possible invasion.
Biden earlier on Friday pledged to make it “very difficult” for Putin, to engage in military action against Ukraine.
His administration will be launching new initiatives to counter Russian aggression, he stated.
Biden stated that he was assembling what he believes to be the best and most meaningful collection of initiatives in order to make it difficult for Putin to do what is being feared by people.
According to the Kremlin, Putin requested binding assurances that NATO would not expand into Ukraine at Friday’s call with Biden.
Even further, the Ukrainian defense minister warned that Russia might invade Ukraine next month.
On Friday, Oleksii Reznikov, the Ukrainian Defense Minister, told Congress that Russia has 94,300 troops in Ukraine. He also warned that there could be a large-scale escalation in January.
An official from Ukraine told The Post that earlier military exercises were intended to prepare for an invasion.
“The Russian troops dealt with the issue of creating strike units near our borders, mobilization, and logistical support to groups. [and]According to an official, there was a transfer of large military contingents (including by air) from Russia to Ukraine’s border.
Since Biden’s election, relations between Russia and the United States have been turbulent.
Apart from the Ukraine matter, the Biden administration has imposed sanctions against Russian targets. It also called out President Vladimir Putin over Kremlin interference with U.S. Elections, cyberactivity targeting U.S. Businesses, and how Alexei Navalny was treated. He was later poisoned, then imprisoned.
The Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Ryzkov stated to lawmakers that information from his border showed ‘the potential of a large-scale Russian escalation’
On Friday, President Joe Biden was seen in Stockholm. The U.S. Secretary Of State stated that Vladimir Putin will be speaking to him soon.
In June, Putin and Biden met in Geneva. The U.S. president warned that if Russia crosses certain red lines (including going after American infrastructure), his administration would react and “the consequences would be catastrophic.”
According to an unnamed source close to the Ukrainian president, Biden has tentatively accepted a phone call with Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine.
Jen Psaki White House press secretary said that officials from the administration have “engaged in a possibility” of an Obama-Biden call.
Psaki spoke out about a possible Biden/Putin call, saying, “It certainly would offer an opportunity to discuss our serious concern about the bellicose speech, about the military buildup, that we’re witnessing on the border with Ukraine.”
Biden was vague about what actions he was taking.
Lavrov, however, has threatened additional sanctions as a response to any U.S. actions.
Lavrov stated that if the new “sanctions of hell” come, they will be responded to.
“We won’t be able to ignore our customers.”
Psaki stated Friday that the administration will coordinate with European allies in case it moves forward with sanctions.
As the White House contemplates how to move forward, she noted the bitter memories from Russia’s 2014 annexe of Crimea. This was the Black Sea Peninsula that Ukraine had held since 1954.
Psaki stated that he knew what Vladimir Putin had done in the past.
“We can see that he has put in place the ability to act quickly.”
Deep disagreements were displayed during the Blinken–Lavrov Meeting, when the Russia official charged the West with ‘playing in fire’ by refusing Russia any say in NATO expansion to countries of former Soviet Union.
Zelenskyy has advocated for Ukraine joining the alliance. The promise of membership has been made but no timeline has been set.
Blinken stated this week that the U.S. made it clear to Russia that it would respond decisively, with high-impact economic measures and other methods that were not used in the past.
Although he did not specify what sanctions were under consideration, a possible option could include removing Russia from SWIFT’s international payment system.
A non-binding resolution was approved by the European Union Parliament in April that would have barred Russia from SWIFT, if it invades Ukraine.
This would be a significant step towards excluding Russian companies from the global financial systems.
According to Western allies during Russian-led earlier escalations in tensions over Ukraine, they considered this a possible step.
Dmitry Medvedev, then-Russian Prime Minister, stated that it would amount to “a declaration of war.”