White House, Ukraine at Odds Over Threat of Russian Invasion

Ukrainian officials say there is no imminent threat, but Jen Psaki says there is

With all eyes on Ukraine and Russia, officials in Washington and Kyiv don’t seem to be on the same page. Ukrainian officials are urging calm and say a Russian incursion isn’t imminent. But over in Washington, the scaremongering continues.

When faced with Ukraine’s assessment of the situation, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki insisted that Russia could invade at any moment. Asked if the US still believes the threat is “imminent,” Psaki replied, “correct.”

Later in the day, President Biden appeared to admit that he doesn’t actually know if Russian President Vladimir Putin is planning to invade. “This is all Putin. I don’t think even his people know for certain what he’s going to do,” he said.

In Kyiv, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov told parliament that “as of today, there are no grounds to believe” Russia will invade imminently, The Associated Press reported. “Don’t worry, sleep well,” Reznikov said. “No need to have your bags packed.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also called for calm on Tuesday. “We are strong enough to keep everything under control and derail any attempts at destabilization,” he said. Addressing Washington’s decision to order the families of US diplomats in Ukraine to leave the country, Zelensky said the move “doesn’t necessarily signal an inevitable escalation and is part of a complex diplomatic game.”

The State Department ordered the embassy drawdown on Sunday and also released a travel advisory for Ukraine citing “the increased threats of Russian military action.” But Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry rejected the US assessment.

“In fact, there have been no radical changes in the security situation recently: the threat of new waves of Russian aggression has remained constant since 2014, and the accumulation of Russian troops near the state border began in April last year,” the ministry said.

For their part, Russia had been denying that it is planning an invasion of Ukraine since the US started making the accusation in November. Putin is seeking guarantees from the US on NATO’s eastward expansion and the presence of NATO troops near Russia’s borders. The US is expected to give Russia a written response on the security proposals sometime this week.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of Antiwar.com, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.