WASHINGTON: The White House on Saturday said that Russia could launch an attack against Ukraine at any time and said US President Joe Biden will convene a National Security Council meeting on Sunday to discuss the situation.
Russia’s strategic nuclear forces held exercises overseen by President Vladimir Putin on Saturday, and Washington accused Russian troops massed near Ukraine’s border of advancing and being “poised to strike.”
On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, facing a sharp spike in violence in and around territory held by Russia-backed rebels and increasingly dire warnings that Russia plans to invade, called for Russian President Vladimir Putin to meet him and seek resolution to the crisis.
“I don’t know what the president of the Russian Federation wants, so I am proposing a meeting,” Zelenskyy said at the Munich Security Conference, where he also met with US Vice President Kamala Harris. Zelenskyy said Russia could pick the location for the talks.
“Ukraine will continue to follow only the diplomatic path for the sake of a peaceful settlement.”
There was no immediate response from the Kremlin.
Zelenskyy spoke hours after separatist leaders in eastern Ukraine ordered a full military mobilization on Saturday while Western leaders made increasingly dire warnings that a Russian invasion of its neighbor appeared imminent.
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.