Biden warned Ukraine’s president Kyiv could be ‘sacked’ by imminent Russian invasion

US president reportedly warns Ukraine’s capital could be threatened

John Bowden
Thursday 27 January 2022 21:41 EST
Russian rifle division sets off for drills near Ukraine border

President Joe Biden gave a frank and dire assessment of the threat Russia poses to Ukraine during a call on Thursday with Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, according to an official in the Ukrainian government.

An unnamed official with Mr Zelensky’s government told CNN that a planned call on Thursday between the two leaders involved Mr Biden warning that Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv could be targeted by Russian forces and “sacked” in an invasion that he reportedly portrayed as imminent and a near-certain possibility.

The president’s prediction was not mentioned in a White House readout of the call.

“The leaders discussed coordinated diplomatic efforts on European security, underscoring the principle of ‘nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine,’” read the White House’s readout.

Mr Biden’s warning is the first official statement from a US official confirming that Ukraine’s capital city could be at risk from Russian invasion. Ukraine’s government has insisted that it does not see the prospect of invasion as being likely as the US sees it, and urged the Biden administration to continue diplomatic talks.

It was reported earlier on Thursday that Ukraine’s president would ask Mr Biden during the call to tone down his rhetoric regarding the likelihood of an attack, which Ukraine’s government apparently believes will not happen in the immediate future as talks continue.

An armed serviceman walks along a trench on the territory controlled by pro-Russian militants on the frontline with Ukrainian government forces near Spartak village in Yasynuvata district of Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine

CNN reported that Mr Zelensky fears panic and the economic impacts of Mr Biden’s language, which even before Thursday had centred on hyping up the severity of the threat Ukraine faces.

Russian officials have adamantly denied plans to invade and insist that the buildup of military forces near Ukraine is a response to Nato posturing. The Russian Federation has called for a promise from Washington that Ukraine will not be admitted into the military alliance, which was founded to counter the Soviet Union.

"We have to be smart, we have to be reasonable, but we have to be strong," Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Tuesday. "If he feels the slightest signs of weakness, it will only prompt him to further escalate and to resort to war. And that's what we have to avoid."

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