WASHINGTON: Russia could launch an attack on Ukraine “at any time”, the White House reaffirmed Saturday, as Western politicians gathered in Munich to discuss the crisis.
US Press Secretary Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden was due to hold a rare Sunday National Security Council meeting over Russia-Ukraine tensions, having said on Friday he was “convinced” Moscow planned to invade its ex-Soviet neighbour within days.
Psaki said Biden was briefed on meetings at the Munich Security Conference, where Western representatives, including Vice-President Kamala Harris, gathered to discuss the mounting tensions.
The president’s national security team “reaffirmed that Russia could launch an attack against Ukraine at any time”, she added.
Western officials in Munich continued to raise the alarm about Moscow’s intentions towards Ukraine, though Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pushed back against Washington’s dire predictions for an invasion, saying “we do not think that we need to panic”.
The Kremlin insists it has no plans to attack, but Moscow has done little to reduce tensions, with state media accusing Kiev of plotting an assault on rebel-held, pro-Russia enclaves in eastern Ukraine in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
The US and the European Union have said they believe Moscow is striving to create a pretext for an attack on Ukraine by falsifying violent incidents on the ground and having proxy outlets put out false information.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price on Saturday warned: “We are seeing more evidence of Russian disinformation being used as a pretext for a potential Russian attack on Ukraine.
“Locals in Donetsk reported calm despite Russian claims of a car bomb.”
The EU also warned Saturday it was seeing stepped-up “manipulation” of information to support what looks like a fabricated pretense for military escalation.
The warning came as Russian state media published unverifiable reports of violent acts in eastern Ukraine.