Biden to give speech on Russian ‘invasion’ of Ukraine

New position is a reversal from Monday night when a senior official would not call Kremlin’s actions an ‘invasion’

Andrew Feinberg
Washington, DC
Tuesday 22 February 2022 16:02 GMT
Russian troop movement in eastern Ukraine is ‘invasion’, says White House
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US President Joe Biden will speak about US and European efforts to deter Russia from taking yet more aggressive actions on Tuesday, hours after his deputy national security adviser said Russian troop movements into separatist regions in eastern Ukraine constituted an “invasion”.

Mr Biden is set to speak at 2pm eastern time, just one day after Russian president Vladimir Putin said Russia would recognise self-proclaimed “people’s republics” in Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states and ordered Russian troops into the regions — which are within Ukraine’s internationally recognised borders — to “keep peace” amid a long-running conflict with Ukrainian forces.

The Biden administration initially declined to characterise the Russian troop movements into Ukraine as an invasion that would trigger harsh US sanctions. But White House Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Finer appeared to reverse that position during a Tuesday morning CNN appearance in which he called the so-called peacekeeping force dispatched by Russia “the beginning of an invasion”.

"An invasion is an invasion and that is what is underway,” he said.

Mr Finer’s description of the Russian troop movements as an “invasion” sets the stage for the White House to roll out a programme of what press secretary Jen Psaki called “the swift and severe economic measures” US officials have been preparing “in coordination with Allies and partners” in a Monday statement announcing a series of limited sanctions focused on Donetsk and Luhansk.

The new White House position is a stark reversal from the cautious line put forth by a senior White House official who spoke to reporters late on Monday.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, was pressed multiple times on whether the Russian expedition into Donetsk and Luhansk constituted the “invasion” which, according to Mr Biden, would trigger harsh sanctions on Russia.

But the official only would say that the Biden administration would “observe and assess what actions Russia actually takes” before responding “accordingly”.

White House officials did not immediately explain the reversal when asked by The Independent.

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