US warns of a ‘false’ pretext by Russia to invade Ukraine

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President Biden says there was still “plenty of room for diplomacy” with Russia to avoid a conflict in Europe, reports Asian Lite News

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday (local time) said that the window for a Russian invasion of Ukraine remains open.

During a briefing, Psaki said that the window for a potential Russian attack on Ukraine remains open and warned a fabricated pretext for an incursion could include reports like the one about mass graves in the Donbas region, reported CNN.

“We are in the window where we believe an attack could begin at any time,” said Psaki. She said the US was not taking Russian claims of de-escalation at face value.

“There’s what Russia says and what Russia does,” Psaki said. Russian troops “remain amassed in a threatening way on the border.”

Asked by CNN what a “meaningful de-escalation” would look like, Psaki did not provide specifics.

“We will know it when we see it,” she said, noting the US was seeking a “verifiable reduction of troops on the border with Ukraine” but not laying out metrics.

She repeated White House warnings of “false flag” events meant to create the pretext for an invasion and said “everyone should keep eyes open” for fake videos or reports emerging on Russian media.

Asked about a cyberattack in Ukraine that took down some government websites, Psaki said she didn’t have details on attribution for who was responsible.

She said making such a determination was difficult because adversaries work to “hide their tracks” in cyberspace.

An apparent cyberattack hit Ukraine’s defense ministry and armed forces, and two Ukrainian banks on Tuesday. It was not immediately clear who was responsible.

Psaki also said that the “door continues to be open for diplomacy,” though said Russian responses to US security concerns hadn’t yet been received in Washington.

“I think we are still waiting for that,” she said.

US President Joe Biden has also said there was still “plenty of room for diplomacy” with Russia to avoid a conflict in Europe.

Russia earlier said that it is withdrawing some troops following drills around Ukraine has been met with scepticism from Western leaders who have called for proof, with the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying they haven’t seen “meaningful pullback” of Russian forces, reported CNN.

‘Attack still possible’

President Biden urged Russia to step back from the brink of war and said reports that Russia has withdrawn some forces from the Ukraine border have not been verified.

“To the citizens of Russia: you are not our enemy, and I don’t believe you want a bloody, destructive war against Ukraine,” Biden said in nationally televised remarks from the White House.

Biden said the United States is “not seeking direct confrontation with Russia” but that if Russia were to attack Americans in Ukraine, “We will respond forcefully.”

Biden said the United States and its NATO allies are prepared for whatever happens and that Russia will pay a steep economic price if Moscow launches an invasion.

He said a Russian attack on Ukraine remains a possibility and reports that some Russian forces have moved away from the Ukraine border have not yet been verified by the United States.

“We are ready to respond decisively to a Russian attack on Ukraine, which remains very much a possibility,” said Biden.

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