Why the U.S. is open about Russia’s threat of invading Ukraine: NPR


On Friday, Vice President Harris attends a meeting with Baltic leaders at the Munich Security Conference in Munich. Harris meets with European leaders and discusses the Russian-Ukrainian crisis throughout the weekend.

Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP via Getty Images


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Why the U.S. is open about Russia's threat of invading Ukraine: NPR

On Friday, Vice President Harris attends a meeting with Baltic leaders at the Munich Security Conference in Munich. Harris meets with European leaders and discusses the Russian-Ukrainian crisis throughout the weekend.

Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The United States is engaging in high-stakes diplomacy as it insists Russia is preparing for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Russia claims not, but it surrounded Ukraine.

A spike in shelling in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, the worst since a ceasefire was agreed two years ago, has raised alarms it could escalate into something bigger.

President Biden and other key members of the administration are vocal about the threat, betting the tactic serves to deter — or at least delay — any Russian action.

On Thursday, Biden called the odds of an invasion “very high,” adding, “My feeling is that it will happen in the next few days.”

How the United States hopes to prevent war

US State Department spokesman Ned Price defended the administration’s strategy of publicly sharing intelligence in an interview on NPR. morning edition Friday.

“Our objective in all of this is to prevent a war. That is why we are pulling every conceivable lever at our disposal and ensuring that nothing is left on the ground in this diplomatic effort,” he said.

Price added that “there is a chance that this strategy could affect Vladimir Putin’s decision calculus.”

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield also told NPR All things Considered Thursday that while the threat of an invasion remains active, “I would like to think that our diplomacy, our disclosure of this has delayed their planning.”

“And we’re going to keep leaning and keep pushing to delay their move in that direction and hopefully come to the negotiating table,” Thomas-Greenfield said.

Allies meet in Germany to discuss crisis

On the diplomacy front, Vice President Harris is meeting with European allies on the crisis in Munich this weekend, and Biden is holding a call with transatlantic leaders about Russian troop buildup on Friday.

Before a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Harris said NATO allies had strengthened their relationship in recent months and she was at the Munich security conference to help ensure that leaders “stay in close contact” as “the hours and days progress” in the conflict.

“We remain, of course, open and willing to be diplomatic in terms of the dialogue and the discussions that we have had with Russia,” Harris said. “But we are also committed – if Russia takes aggressive action – to ensure that there are serious consequences in terms of the economic sanctions that we have been discussing.”

Price insisted the administration “is not trying to stir up hysteria. What we are doing is trying to put in place careful preparations.”

He also noted:

“If Russia changes course and our warnings are in vain, so much the better. If later on people want to accuse us of hysteria, say that we were going too far, we will accept it, we will accept it with pleasure. We we are not looking for credit, we are looking to prevent a war.

NPR White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez contributed to this report.


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