Fueling Tensions? CNN Claims Biden Told Zelensky Russian Invasion 'Imminent', White House Denies It

© AP Photo / Ukrainian Presidential Press Office Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks with US President Joe Biden over the telephone in his office in Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, 9 December 2021.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks with US President Joe Biden over the telephone in his office in Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, 9 December 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 28.01.2022
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Washington and some NATO states have been pushing claims that Russian troops deployed to its southern regions for drills were a prelude to an “imminent” invasion of Ukraine, despite both Moscow and Kiev dismissing the notion. The Kremlin has asserted its right to send troops anywhere inside its own borders, accusing NATO of whipping up tensions.
US President Joe Biden and President Volodymyr Zelensky reportedly disagreed over the "risk levels" of an alleged Russian “invasion” of Ukraine in a telephone call on Thursday, according to CNN.
The conversation purportedly "did not go well," a senior Ukrainian official has been cited as revealing.
During the "long and frank" call, Joe Biden warned his Ukrainian counterpart that an “imminent” Russian attack could potentially happen once the ground had frozen, sometime in February, according to the official.
However, Biden stopped short of definitely saying that such an incursion into Ukraine on the part of Russia would take place, according to the CNN report.
He also is claimed to have warned Ukraine it would not be offered significantly more military help beyond that it was currently receiving.
In response, the Ukrainian president doubled down on his earlier stance that the alleged threat from Russia remained "dangerous but ambiguous," as he ostensibly said Kiev’s intelligence assessed the threat differently.
According to the unnamed senior Ukrainian official, Zelensky was not at all certain that the attack on his country by Russian forces would take place.
The Ukrainian president urged his American counterpart to "calm down the messaging", according to the official.
U.S. President Joe Biden listens to a question from a reporter about Russia and the Ukraine crisis as he pays a visit to a small clothing and gifts store on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 25, 2022. - Sputnik International, 1920, 25.01.2022
Biden Confirms 'No Intention' to Move American, NATO Forces Into Ukraine
The Ukrainian leader is said to have pointed to the recent breakthrough in negotiations with Russia in Paris, voicing hope that a ceasefire agreement with the Russian-speaking, unrecognised Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics (DPR and LPR) would be maintained.
Further on in the call with Biden, Zelensky stated that he believed more talks between the US, Russia and NATO would be needed before diplomatic efforts had been exhausted, according to the report.
Meanwhile, another US source was cited as saying that the White House was aware of the “balancing act” that Zelensky was attempting in the face of his "multiple audiences".
"On the one hand, he wants assistance, but he has to assure his people he has the situation under control. That's a tricky balance," the source was cited as saying.

‘Leaking' Falsehoods’

The White House disputed the reported account of the conversation between Biden and Zelensky, while acknowledging that POTUS had warned his Ukrainian counterpart that imminent invasion of his country by the Kremlin was a "distinct possibility".
"Anonymous sources are 'leaking' falsehoods. President Biden said that there is a distinct possibility that the Russians could invade Ukraine in February. He has said this publicly and we have been warning about this for months. Reports of anything more or different than that are completely false," National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne told CNN.
Responding in a similar vein, a spokesman for Volodymyr Zelensky also disputed the Ukrainian official's account of the call.
President Zelensky had subsequently tweeted that he and Biden had a call where they "discussed recent diplomatic efforts on de-escalation and agreed on joint actions for the future."
Zelensky expressed gratitude to the US POTUS for the military assistance being channelled into his country, with "possibilities for financial support to Ukraine also discussed".
A dancer in Ukrainian national costume performs during the opening ceremony of the Rapid Trident military exercises on September 15, 2014 near the western Ukrainian town of Yavoriv - Sputnik International, 1920, 27.01.2022
Retired US General Urges NATO to Keep Ukraine Out for the Sake of Peace With Russia
A White House readout of the Thursday call said that Joe Biden had "reaffirmed" to Volodymyr Zelensky that the US was geared up to "respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine."
Biden vowed during the conversation, which lasted an hour and 20 minutes, that his administration would explore "additional macroeconomic support" to help the Ukrainian economy.
"President Biden noted the United States has provided Ukraine with over half a billion dollars in development and humanitarian assistance in the last year, and is exploring additional macroeconomic support to help Ukraine's economy amidst pressure resulting from Russia's military build-up," said the White House readout.
Tensions over Ukraine have spiralled over recent months, fuelled by unproven claims, driven by the West and Kiev, that Russia was planning an invasion. The Kremlin has vehemently rejected this, while in turn slamming the accusations against it as a pretext for the NATO alliance's military presence to be expanded and more troops to be deployed to Eastern Europe. Moscow has also emphasised its right to relocate troops within its own borders.
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