The White House rejected reports that President Joe Biden had warned Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to “prepare for impact” from a Russian invasion during their call Thursday.
A Thursday report from CNN cited an unnamed official who claimed that Biden had told Zelensky that an invasion was “virtually certain” as soon as the ground freezes in Ukraine. The unnamed official reportedly added that Biden had warned Russia may “sack” the capital of Kyiv and occupy it. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne flatly rejected the report Thursday evening.
“This is not true. President Biden said that there is a distinct possibility that the Russians could invade Ukraine in February,” she stated. “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.”
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. https://t.co/chkFOhwWHn
— Emily Horne (@emilyhorne46) January 27, 2022
CNN discussed their report on television Thursday evening.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki stated during a Thursday press briefing that Russia is poised to invade Ukraine “at any time.” NATO and the U.S. have threatened severe economic consequences should Russia move forward with the invasion, but Biden has ruled out deploying U.S. troops directly. Meanwhile, Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials have continued to insist that a Russian invasion is not “imminent.” (RELATED: German Chancellor To Visit White House Amid Russia’s Ukraine Aggression)
A White House readout of the call downplayed any warning of an imminent invasion Biden may have made to Zelensky.
“President Biden reaffirmed the readiness of the United States along with its allies and partners to respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine. He also underscored the commitment of the United States to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the White House wrote.
“President Biden noted the United States has provided Ukraine with over half a billion dollars in development and humanitarian assistance in the last year, and is exploring additional macroeconomic support to help Ukraine’s economy amidst pressure resulting from Russia’s military build-up,” the statement added.
Biden also reassured Zelensky that the U.S. embassy in Kyiv remains fully operational, despite a recent State Department missive instructing some U.S. citizens and diplomats to evacuate the country.
The U.S. and NATO allies held a series of talks with Russian and Ukrainian officials in early January, but the Russian buildup of troops has continued. The White House has also scheduled a Feb. 7 meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to discuss the hostilities. Germany has played a key role in the Russia-Ukraine conflict in its push for the U.S. and other allies to approve the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which pumps gas directly from Russia to Germany and serves to ostracize Ukraine from the European energy economy.
Some critics have argued that Germany’s willingness to tie itself to Russian energy supplies has compromised its alliance with the U.S. and other NATO countries. (RELATED: ‘Terrible Mistake’: Tom Cotton Blasts Biden Admin Over Nord Stream 2)
German leadership vowed to pursue harsh consequences for Russia should Putin ever use its supply of energy as a weapon against Eastern European countries like Ukraine. However, Russian officials have already deployed threats of cutting off oil supply in an effort to avert sanctions.
Western countries have threatened to cut off Russia from SWIFT, the global security network that connects thousands of the world’s top financial institutions, should Russia invade Ukraine. The Russian Federation Council responded Tuesday that they would cut off oil supply to Europe if NATO countries made that move.