US President Biden tells Western allies Russia may attack Ukraine on Feb. 16: report
In a phone call with a number of Western allies, US President Joe Biden reportedly told leaders that his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin could attack Ukraine on February 16. In recent days, the United States has repeatedly declared that a full Russian invasion of Ukraine could come before the end of the Beijing Olympics on February 20. Amid these growing concerns, the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Japan and several European countries have already asked their citizens to leave the former Soviet nation as soon as possible.
Now Politico has reported that several senior US officials, including President Joe Biden, have confirmed that Russia will launch physical aggression against Ukraine as early as February 16. According to the outlet, Washington also informed its allies that it could be preceded by a deluge of missile strikes and cyberattacks. Speaking to Politico, a US official said the leaders’ call indicated cyberattacks are “imminent” as the intelligence is “specific and alarming”.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen, but the risk is now high enough, and the threat is now sufficiently immediate, that this is what caution requires,” US NSA Jake Sullivan said as he asked Americans to leave Ukraine within the next 24 to 48 hours.
The Europeans, however, signaled that they had a different picture of February 16 intelligence. According to the outlet, a UK official said Britain had a different interpretation. Separately, two EU diplomats also shared even more skeptical views, with one saying they “still refuse to buy it”. It would be Putin’s mistake,” they said.
It should be mentioned that it is possible that the information from February 16 is raw and not the overall assessment of the United States. However, what is clear is that Washington’s tone is getting tougher on the idea of Putin ordering a war against Ukraine. On Friday, the US NSA also mentioned that there would be no US military effort to evacuate US citizens from besieged Ukraine, further adding that any attack on the former Soviet nation could begin with “aerial bombings and missile attacks”.
Biden and Putin will hold a phone conversation on February 12
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to engage in a phone conversation with his US counterpart Joe Biden on Saturday amid growing tensions between Russia and Ukraine. According to Russian media, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday that the virtual meeting would be held between the two presidents “in the evening (according to) Moscow time”. However, Peskov pointed out that the request for a phone call “was preceded by a written appeal from the American side”.
“Indeed, the American side has requested a conversation with President Putin, and tomorrow evening, Moscow time, the two presidents must have a conversation,” said Dmitry Peskov quoted Friday by the RIA Novosti agency.