During a telephone call with a number of Western allies, US President Joe Biden reportedly told the leaders that his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin could attack Ukraine on February 16. In recent days, the United States has repeatedly stated that a full Russian invasion of Ukraine could come before the end of the Beijing Olympics on February 20. Amid such rising concerns, the US, Australia, the UK, New Zealand, Japan and several European nations have already asked their citizens to leave the former Soviet nation as soon as possible.
Now, Politico has reported that several top US officials, including President Joe Biden, have confirmed that Russia will start a physical assault on Ukraine as soon as February 16. As per the media outlet, Washington has also communicated to its allies that this could be preceded by a barrage of missile strikes and cyber attacks. Speaking to Politico, one US official said that the leaders’ call indicated that cyberattacks are “imminent” as 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 immediate enough, that this is what prudence demands,” US NSA Jake Sullivan stated as he asked Americans to leave Ukraine in the next 24 to 48 hours.
Europeans have, however, signalled that they have a different picture of the February 16 intelligence. According to the media outlet, a UK official said that Britain has a different interpretation. Separately, two EU diplomats also shared even more sceptical views, with one stating that they “still refuse to buy it. It would be a mistake by Putin,” they said.
It is worth mentioning that it is possible that the February 16 piece of intelligence is raw and not the overall assessment of the US. However, what is clear is that the tone from Washington is getting more severe to the idea of Putin ordering a war on Ukraine. On Friday, the US NSA also mentioned that there won’t be a US military effort to evacuate US citizens from Ukraine under siege, further adding that any attack on the former Soviet nation could begin with “aerial bombing and missile attacks”.
Biden, Putin to hold telephonic conversation on Feb 12
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday is scheduled to engage in a telephonic conversation with his American counterpart Joe Biden amid mounting tensions between Russia and Ukraine. According to Russian media reports, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Friday stated the virtual meeting will be held between the two presidents “in the evening (as per) Moscow time”. However, Peskov stressed that the request for the phone call “was preceded by a written appeal from the US side”.
“Indeed, the US side has asked for a conversation with President Putin, and tomorrow, evening, Moscow time, the two presidents are scheduled to have a conversation,” said Dmitry Peskov quoted as saying on Friday by RIA Novosti agency.