Another Sunday, and Biden’s national security adviser is at it again making the rounds on the big network news shows, warning the Russian invasion will invade Ukraine “any day now” – at this point a familiar refrain we’ve heard for multiple weeks running…
“We cannot perfectly predict the day, but we have now been saying for some time that we are in the window, and an invasion could begin, a major military action could begin by Russia in Ukraine any day now — that includes this coming week, before the end of the Olympics,” Jake Sullivan told CNN’s Jake Tapper.
This latest round of breathless White House proclamations and predictions of the Russians are coming! began in earnest Friday afternoon when the administration told reporters that Putin has made the decision to launch a large military offensive.
US officials anticipate a horrific, bloody campaign that begins with two days or aerial bombardment and electronic warfare, followed by an invasion, with the possible goal of regime change.
— Nick Schifrin (@nickschifrin) February 11, 2022
Multiple countries have now followed Washington’s lead in drawing down embassy and diplomatic staff from Ukraine to get people “out of harm’s way” – with the latest over the weekend being Australia. This is what the alarmism and panic emanating from the White House has wrought…
The prime minister, Scott Morrison, has ordered the evacuation of the Australian embassy in Kyiv, warning the situation in Ukraine has reached a dangerous stage.
Australia’s foreign affairs minister, Marise Payne, says the government has directed the departure of embassy staff to a temporary office in Lviv, with the buildup of Russian troops on the border.
“The situation is deteriorating and is reaching a very dangerous stage,” Morrison said on Sunday.
This is the latest in a growing list of countries withdrawing embassy personnel including Israel, the UK, the Netherlands, Latvia, Japan and South Korea.
But the all-important and central question that’s not being asked is once again: what’s the view from Kiev? What is the Ukrainian government’s reaction to the latest White House statements on the crisis? How about the President of Ukraine himself?
#BREAKING Ukraine leader Zelensky says warnings of Russian invasion 'provoking panic', demands to see firm proof pic.twitter.com/ZoBndyL3BU
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) February 12, 2022
Kiev is not too happy, and is demanding proof from US intelligence backing the new dire allegations that Russia is poised to go in:
“There has been too much information about a full-scale war with Russia – even specific dates have been announced. We understand there are risks. If you have any additional information regarding the 100 percent guaranteed invasion of Ukraine by Russia on 16 February, please give it to us,” Volodymyr Zelensky told reporters on Saturday.
Zelensky said he did not believe in the danger of a full-scale war at the moment. “I have to speak to the public with real information at hand. We receive information from many sources. We also have an intelligence service. I don’t think that it’s any worse than the intelligence services of other countries,” he noted.
Warnings of Russian invasion stoking 'panic' says Ukrainian President: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says that warnings of an imminent Russian attack on his country were stoking "panic" and demands to see firm proof of a planned invasion. pic.twitter.com/cEuwEUrLpA
— worldnews24u (@worldnews24u) February 13, 2022
And a fresh report from NBC News taken from the streets of Kiev suggests that many common Ukrainian citizens, too, can see through the hype:
Now, as the West warns a fresh attack is a “distinct possibility” as soon as next week, many in Kyiv aren’t convinced.
“I don’t believe that Russia is going to invade Kyiv. The situation is wound up from both sides,” Oleksandr Bovtach, 55, told NBC News. “The West and Putin are playing each other’s nerves.”
Although some are wary of an invasion, few are preparing for that possibility.
And notably a number of longtime Russia observers and mainstream journalists living on the ground in the region are beginning to have serious doubts…
I admit. I have not seen The Intelligence. But there's never been a time when my understanding of Russia — my 15 years of reporting on Russia and Ukraine — has been so at odds with what the U.S. government says about Russia and Ukraine. I hope I'm right, and they're wrong.
— Simon Shuster (@shustry) February 11, 2022
As one foreign policy analyst observed Saturday, the situation ironically remains that “Everyone is predicting war between Russia and Ukraine except Russia and Ukraine.”
Biden and Zelensky are expected to hold a phone call Sunday, where it’s likely the Ukrainian leader will ask for Biden for firm evidence backing the latest White House alarmist claims. This will likely be a repeat of the last call they held: Biden and Zelensky last spoke last month and it “did not go well,” a senior Ukrainian official told CNN at the time, amid disagreements over the “risk levels” of a Russian attack.