Biden agrees ‘in principle’ for Putin to meet if Russia doesn’t invade Ukraine

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Russian officials did not say whether they planned the meeting.

The Biden administration has repeatedly said it is open to a meeting with Putin, the sources noted before stressing that nothing has changed regarding the US conclusion that a Russian invasion of Ukraine was imminent.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said so in a statement regarding the proposed summit.

“We are always ready for diplomacy,” she said. “We are also prepared to impose swift and severe consequences if Russia chooses war instead. And currently, Russia appears to be continuing preparations for a full-scale assault on Ukraine very soon.

The Elysée Palace said in a translation of its earlier statement that the summit “can only be held on the condition that Russia does not invade Ukraine.”

Blinken and Lavrov will prepare the substance of the summit at a meeting scheduled for Thursday, the palace said.

A US official and another person with knowledge of the matter said earlier on Sunday that the United States had obtained intelligence showing that Russian military officials had been ordered to carry out an invasion.

The intelligence, which was developed very recently, informed Biden’s startling statement on Friday that the United States believes Putin has already decided to invade, the people said.

The United States then saw Russian military units move to carry out the order for an invasion, further bolstering the assessment that Putin could strike at any moment, they added.

“From this moment on, I’m confident he made the decision. We have reason to believe that,” Biden said Friday at the White House. When asked how the United States knew, he simply replied, “We have a significant intelligence capability.”

Biden’s assertion marked a shift after weeks of the United States saying it believed Putin had not made a final decision. On Saturday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he agreed with Biden that Putin had decided to invade and that the Russian military was now in “the position you need to be in to attack.” .

White House officials say the threat level in eastern Ukraine and along the Russian border did not diminish over the weekend, despite diplomatic efforts by Blinken and the vice president. Kamala Harris at a major annual security conference in Munich. The White House said Biden was again told by his aides on Saturday that “Russia could launch an attack on Ukraine at any time.”

On Sunday, Biden convened a rare weekend meeting of the National Security Council focused on Ukraine, the White House said. Austin and Blinken, both fresh from Europe, were spotted entering the West Wing shortly before noon. A White House official said Harris would join the meeting remotely from Air Force Two while flying back from Germany.

Blinken, who spoke to the UN Security Council on Thursday about an elaborate Russian plot to fabricate a pretext for war, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Putin’s actions since then have “followed the script that I established”. He pointed to his earlier predictions that Russia would mount false flag operations in eastern Ukraine and use so-called temporary military exercises to justify a military buildup near the Ukrainian border.

“Everything we said was likely to happen before the actual invasion happens,” Blinken said.

Kurt Chirbas, Elyse Perlmutter-Gumbiner , Andrea Mitchell and Kristen Welker contributed.

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