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Biden says Putin has already 'made the decision' to attack Ukraine

“It is not too late to de-escalate and return to the negotiating table,” the president said of Russia in Friday remarks on a situation he termed a "rapidly escalating crisis."
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Friday said the U.S. has reason to believe that Russia will attack Ukraine’s capital within the coming days, calling the situation a "rapidly escalating crisis."

Speaking from the White House, Biden said he was "convinced" Russian President Vladimir Putin had already "made the decision" to invade Ukraine, but said a diplomatic resolution remained on the table.

"It is not too late to de-escalate and return to the negotiating table," Biden said.

The president also said Russia was pushing "more and more disinformation" in an effort to make Ukraine appear as the aggressor. Biden said it was part of the Kremlin's playbook to set up a “false justification to act against Ukraine.”

Biden reiterated that he would not send U.S. troops to fight in Ukraine.

Friday's remarks came after two calls earlier in the day. Biden discussed the situation in Ukraine with a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers who are traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris to the Munich Security Conference. He also spoke on by phone with European and NATO leaders.

"Despite Russia's efforts to divide us at home and abroad, I can affirm that has not happened," Biden said. "The overwhelming message on both calls was one of unity, determination and resolve."

Shortly before Biden spoke, deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology Anne Neuberger told reporters that the U.S. believes that Russia was responsible for widespread cyberattacks against Ukrainian banks earlier this week.

"While of limited impact, this recent spate of cyber attacks in Ukraine are consistent with what a Russian effort could look like, and laying the groundwork for more disruptive cyberattacks accompanying a potential further invasion of Ukraine sovereign territory," Neuberger said.

Biden's televised speech marked the second time this week he has spoken directly to the American public about U.S. efforts to help avert a war between Russia and Ukraine, as American officials have painted an increasingly grim picture in recent days of the potential for a diplomatic solution and warned that Moscow is giving no signs of de-escalation.

Russian-backed separatists fighting in eastern Ukraine announced an evacuation of their breakaway region’s residents to Russia on Friday, heightening fears that Moscow was planning to use an escalation in the long-running conflict as a pretext to invade. The move came amid a spike in shelling in the area.

Moscow has announced large-scale drills involving its nuclear forces starting Saturday that will be overseen by Putin and which stand to offer a reminder of the country’s nuclear might, as Europe faces its gravest security crisis since the Cold War.

Outside advisers to the White House have been urging Biden to do more to communicate to the American people the consequences a Russian invasion could have not just to international security, but also to the U.S. economy.

Russia's status as one of the world’s largest energy suppliers means a disruption of supplies coming from the country could lead to a spike in the price of oil and natural gas that would affect U.S. consumers.

Russia is also a major global supplier of raw materials, such as aluminum, nickel, palladium and copper. Any disruption to the supply of those materials could rattle an already disrupted global supply chain, further adding to inflation, that is at its highest levels in decades.

"If Russia pursues these plans, it will be responsible for a catastrophic and needless war of choice," Biden said Friday.