An invasion could begin “at any time” – White House
Biden-Johnson in call discuss “severe consequences” for Russia if it invades Ukraine
In his most recent address to the nation, Zelenskiy was not saying he necessarily agreed with the assessment that there would be an attack on Wednesday, and he attributed it to reports from others.
He has been consistently critical of US and allied forecasts of doom. The intent behind the address appeared to calm nerves, assure Ukrainians of the capabilities of the armed forces, and a call for national unity in the face of the constant psychological pressure.
According to CNN, Mykhailo Podoliak, a Ukrainian presidential adviser said that Zelenskiy was being ironic.
And NBC reports that Sergii Nykyforov, Zelenskiy’s spokesman told NBCNews: “By saying ‘we were told the attack is going to be on Feb 16’, the president referred to a date that was spread by the media. It is not even an official date. Just a date that came from some officials, a leak.”
Ukraine’s Zelenskiy posts Facebook video about ‘day of attack’
A video address from Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy to his nation has been posted in English on Facebook, saying: “We are told that February 16 will be the day of attack.”
Zelenskiy does not cite a source for the information. In a different translation on the Reuters news wire, he is quoted as saying: “They tell us February 16 will be the day of the attack.”
He then goes on to say, according to Reuters: “We will make it a day of unity. They are trying to frighten us by yet again naming a date for the start of military action.”
In the Facebook translation, Zelenskiy continues: “We are intimidated by a great war and once again set the date of the military invasion. This is not the first time.
“But our state is stronger today than ever. We strive for peace and want to solve all issues exclusively through negotiations.”
Such a statement is surprising and, if the president has been reliably informed of the timing of a planned incursion, or invasion, it is utterly extraordinary. The Hill also reported the Facebook post.
The Facebook post translation further says: “We have one great European aspiration. We want freedom and are ready to vote for it. 14 thousand defenders and civilians who died in this war [since the Russian aggression in Ukrainian territory since 2014] are watching us from the sky.
“And we will not betray their memory. We all want to live happily, and happiness loves the strong. We have never been able to give up and we are not going to learn that.Love Ukraine! We are at peace! We are strong! We are together!”
The decision to evacuate the Kyiv embassy is a turnaround from Saturday morning when a senior state department official insisted that the embassy would not be closed and that a few diplomats would stay on “sufficient to be able to continue working closely with the Ukrainian government, to be able to ensure we’ve got the best possible information for our senior leaders and the President about what’s happening broadly in society.”
The official noted the US does not have a diplomatic facility in Lviv, so it would be an ad hoc operation out of the western Ukrainian city.”
Conceptually, this is much more like a group of people from the embassy temporarily working in another city, just as we would if we had a visit by senior US government officials or members of Congress,” the official said.
US relocating remaining Ukraine embassy staff
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has just announced that the Biden administration is moving its remaining embassy staff in Ukraine from the capital Kyiv to the city of Lviv, further west.
Blinken is citing the “dramatic acceleration in the buildup of Russian forces” on the border with Ukraine.
The secretary of state had already told a news conference in Honolulu yesterday that the risk of Russian military action in Ukraine was high and imminent enough to justify the departure of much of the staff from the embassy,
Last Friday, Joe Biden urged American citizens to leave the country while there were still commercial flights. That was excluding essential embassy staff who remained put in Kyiv.
Blinken said in a statement today that the decision was taken out of safety concerns.
“My team and I constantly review the security situation to determine when prudence dictates a change in posture,” Blinken said.
He noted that Washington would continue working for a diplomatic solution to the tensions with Moscow.
Embassy operations were being temporarily moved to Lviv – which is around 50 miles from the western border of Ukraine, next to Poland.
Blinken added that US diplomats would continue to engage with the Ukrainian government from that location.
Ukraine’s president declares Wednesday ‘Day of national unity’ amid invasion fears