At a major security conference in Munich, Vice President Harris warned of far-reaching sanctions against Russia and its allies in the event of an invasion. Her comments came after President Biden said Friday that his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, has “made the decision” to strike Ukraine, as his administration warned of Kremlin-orchestrated false-flag operations in the coming days. U.S. officials worry that these could be used as a pretext for an attack.
Hours after Biden’s remarks, leaders of two breakaway territories in eastern Ukraine on Saturday signed mass military mobilization decrees that put them on war footing.
Biden in his speech said that disinformation was being pushed to the Russian public that Ukraine was preparing a major offensive — even as Russia has probably massed as many as 190,000 troops in and around Ukraine and now has all the pieces in place for an invasion, according to U.S. officials.
Here’s what to know
- Belarusian military officials said Russian troops deployed to the country for joint drills may stay there past the official end of the exercise on Sunday. Their presence has increased fears about the Russian military surrounding Ukraine from a number of strategic positions.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday traveled to the Munich Security Conference. He plans to return to Kyiv the same day. In Munich, Zelensky met with Vice President Harris, who assured him that “the United States stands with Ukraine.”
- The United States asserted on Friday that Russia has probably massed as many as 190,000 troops in and around Ukraine, or nearly double that of the 100,000 estimated in late January.
- President Vladimir Putin oversaw a major military exercise on Saturday of Russia’s nuclear forces, involving the launch of a series of hypersonic missiles. He was accompanied by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
UNDERSTANDING THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE CRISIS