Biden 'concerned' about Russian threats against Ukraine

Ukrainian president claims coup attempt was made against him

A soldier in the Ukrainian Armed Forces takes part in military drills near the border with Russian-annexed Crimea. Reuters
Powered by automated translation

US President Joe Biden on Friday said that he would, “in all probability”, meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to discuss concerns over a potential ground invasion by Russia.

Mr Zelenskiy has sounded the alarm over the threat posed by a growing number of Russian troops being stationed along the Ukrainian-Russian border.

“It is a signal that there could be escalation,” he said. “There is a threat today that there will be war tomorrow.”

Mr Biden said on Friday that the US supports Ukraine's “territorial integrity".

Moscow, which seized the Crimea region in 2014 and backs separatist territories in parts of eastern Ukraine, has dismissed all accusations, blaming Kiev and Washington for rising tension.

Over the course of the year, tens of thousands of Russian troops have gathered along the border, increasing concerns over a possible Russian invasion.

Recent US intelligence shows Mr Putin may be planning an intervention in early 2022 with 100 battalion tactical groups and about 100,000 soldiers.

Washington has shared its concerns over a possible invasion with its European allies.

Members of the Biden administration are evaluating how to support Ukraine, with “all options on the table”, including sending military advisers and defence weaponry to Ukraine, CNN reported this week.

Also on Friday, Mr Zelenskiy in a press conference said that there had been a Russian-led coup attempt made against him. He did not provide details of the attempted overthrow but he publicly asked Mr Putin to deny the country was planning an invasion.

“Any movement of Russian troops within our territory does not pose a threat to anyone and should not cause concern to anyone,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters this week.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan called the head of the presidential administration of Ukraine, Andriy Yermak, on Friday to discuss the current situation.

“They discussed their shared concerns about ongoing Russian military activities near Ukraine’s border and its harsh rhetoric towards Ukraine,” spokeswoman Emily Horne said of the conversation.

“They agreed that all sides should pursue diplomatic efforts to de-escalate tension.”

Agence France-Presse contributed to this report

Updated: May 20, 2022, 11:52 PM