Ukraine makes new Biden request
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called on his US counterpart Joe Biden to fly into Kiev “in the coming days.” The invitation, which was mad during a phone call between the pair on Sunday, comes as several nations, including the US itself, ordered most of their diplomatic staff out of the Ukrainian capital citing fears of a possible Russian invasion.
"I am convinced that your arrival in Kiev in the coming days, which are crucial for stabilizing the situation, will be a powerful signal and contribute to de-escalation,” Zelensky told Biden, according to a statement issued by his press service.
As the US, UK, Israel, Australia and other countries have urged their nationals to leave Ukraine by all means available, Zelensky insisted that Kiev, as well as other major Ukrainian cities, were “safe and under reliable protection.”
A trip to the capital, however, does not appear to be on Biden’s schedule, CNN reported, citing US officials saying that such a visit would be “extremely unlikely.” “A senior Ukrainian official” told the channel that Biden gave “no positive response” to the invitation during the call.
The White House’s readout of the Sunday call made no mention of the invitation either. It noted only that Biden promised Zelensky to “respond swiftly and decisively, together with its allies and partners, to any further Russian aggression against Ukraine.”
Several media outlets have attempted to predict the most likely day for a Russian invasion, with Bloomberg reporting that it would take place as soon as on Wednesday – even though Russia has insisted it has no plans to invade its neighbor. After US officials repeatedly said that Russia could launch a military offensive in Ukraine “any day now” while warning of a potential “false flag” operation by Russia, Zelensky on Saturday demanded to know what intelligence the US is basing the prediction upon.
The previous phone call between Biden and Zelensky, which took place in January, reportedly saw the two parties disagreeing over the likelihood of a military conflict. Zelensky recently complained that recurrent warnings by Western officials and media of a looming threat of Russian invasion are destabilizing Kiev’s economy.