Biden warns of possible Russian invasion of Ukraine in February…

US requests an open United Nations Security Council meeting to discuss the crisis over Ukraine.

The White House says President Joe Biden has warned Ukraine’s president that there is a “distinct possibility” that Russia could take military action against Ukraine in February, as the United States sought an open UN Security Council meeting to discuss the crisis.

The news comes as the Kremlin likewise sounded a grim note on Thursday, saying it saw “little ground for optimism” in resolving the crisis after the US this week again rejected Russia’s main demands.

Russian officials said dialogue was still possible to end the crisis, but Biden again offered a stark warning amid growing concerns that Russian President Vladimir Putin will give the go-ahead for a further invasion of Ukrainian territory in the not-so-distant future.

The White House said Biden’s comments to Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a phone call amplified concerns that administration officials have been making for some time.

“President Biden said that there is a distinct possibility that the Russians could invade Ukraine in February,” White House National Security Council Spokesperson Emily Horne said.

“He has said this publicly and we have been warning about this for months.”

Earlier on Thursday, the US envoy to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said that the Biden administration wanted to discuss Russia’s “threatening behavior” towards Ukraine.

“Russia is engaging in other destabilising acts aimed at Ukraine, posing a clear threat to international peace and security and the UN Charter,” she said.

“This is not a moment to wait and see. The council’s full attention is needed now, and we look forward to direct and purposeful discussion on Monday.”

Relations between Russia and the West have deteriorated after Moscow deployed tens of thousands of troops on its border with Ukraine. The Kremlin has denied it plans to invade but last month demanded wide-ranging security guarantees, including assurances Ukraine never be allowed to join the US-led NATO military alliance.

As expected, the US and the Western alliance on Wednesday firmly rejected any concessions on Moscow’s main points, saying allied deployments of troops and military equipment in Eastern Europe are non-negotiable.

The US did outline areas in which some of Russia’s concerns might be addressed, possibly offering a path to de-escalation.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Thursday that the response from the US – and a similar one from NATO – left “little ground for optimism”, but added that “there always are prospects for continuing a dialogue, it’s in the interests of both us and the Americans”.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also hinted at an opening for dialogue, saying the US response contained some elements that could lead to “the start of a serious talk on secondary issues”.

But Lavrov also emphasised that “the document contains no positive response on the main issue” – Moscow’s demands that NATO not expand and that the alliance refrain from deploying weapons that might threaten Russia. Read More

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