Biden ‘convinced’ Putin has already decided to invade Ukraine

Joe Biden has said he is "convinced" Russian President Vladimir Putin has already decided to invade Ukraine.

Speaking at the White House, the US president told reporters that Washington has "reason to believe" Russian forces intend to attack in the coming days and will target the capital, Kyiv.

Previously, Mr Biden had said the US was unsure whether Mr Putin had made a final decision, but on Friday he said that the US's "significant intelligence capability" had resulted in a change.

Analysis by Martha Kelner, US correspondent

A huge – and bleak – moment in this ongoing and unpredictable crisis.

The Biden administration had said three weeks ago that an invasion was "imminent". They then revised that to "highly likely" to avoid – they said – causing undue panic in Ukraine.

But President Biden was very clear tonight in his view that Vladimir Putin has already decided to invade and, not only that, but he will attack the capital, Kyiv.

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He said the door to diplomacy was still open but the chances of this situation being resolved around the negotiating table seem to be increasingly slim.

There was also another direct warning to President Putin and the Kremlin: "Make no mistake," Mr Biden said, "if Russia pursues this plan, it will be responsible for a catastrophic and needless war of choice."

He said: "As of this moment, I'm convinced he has made the decision. We have reason to believe that."

It comes as the number of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine is estimated to have reached more than 150,000.


US satellite company Maxar said its latest images showed a new helicopter unit, battle group deployment with tanks, armoured personnel carriers and support equipment had been deployed to Millerovo airfield about 10 miles from the Ukrainian border.

A new deployment of at least 50 helicopters has been spotted at Lida airfield in northwestern Belarus, with new military activity also noted in Crimea and other parts of western Russia.

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Russian military build-up at Millerovo airfield, about 10 miles from the border with Ukraine. Pic: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies

The US has said it is, alongside NATO allies, "converging" on a final package of sanctions against Russia if it invades.

Earlier on Friday, Mr Biden spoke with the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, the UK, the European Union, and NATO.

The White House said that the group promised to continue pursuing diplomacy but that they were also preparing to impose swift, coordinated economic costs on Russia if it invaded its neighbour.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are due to meet on 24 February but Mr Biden said that any Russian action before this would prove Russia had "slammed the door shut on diplomacy".

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