Biden: Threat of a Russian invasion very high
Updated: Feb 18
US President tells reporters Russia could invade Ukraine in the coming days in busy 24 hours of western diplomacy
US President, Joe Biden told reporters on Thursday that a threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine was "very high".
Speaking outside the White House he said, "We have reason to believe that they are engaged in a false flag operation to have an excuse to go in."
Mr Biden was one of many high-level western figures to make public statements on the situation in Ukraine today. Diplomatic efforts to find a solution to the crisis also saw interventions by the US at the United Nations and at NATO, by EU leaders and by the United Kingdom.
"We have reason to believe that they are engaged in a false flag operation to have an excuse to go in." US President, Joe Biden
Mr Biden's comments come the day after which the United States intelligence community had initially predicted that an invasion could happen.
Blinken at UN: Russian invasion would be a "war of choice"
Antony Blinken, the United States' Secretary of State later addressed the UN Security Council on the topic. Echoing previous comments by Mr Biden he said that a Russian invasion of Ukraine would be "a war of choice".
He added that Russia's "looming aggression against Ukraine" was "the most immediate threat to pace and security."
Antony Blinken speaks at the United Nations on Thursday
Austin clear that Putin would bear responsibility
Earlier, US Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, that sated that if Vladimir Putin was not serious about achieving a peaceful outcome then he would "bear the responsibility for the suffering that ensues".
Mr Austin gave his remarks at press conference after a two-day meeting of NATO Defence Ministers in Brussels.
"Vladimir Putin will bear responsibility for the suffering that ensues." US Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin
Lloyd Austin addresses reporters after a meeting of NATO Defence Ministers
Stoltenberg - no return to spheres of influence
Speaking at the same meeting, NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, underlined the alliance's commitment to its "open-door" policy of welcoming new members.
"We cannot return to an age of sphere's of influence, where big powers bully others", he said.
Stoltenberg speaks at the end of NATO meeting of Defence Ministers
Russia expels no2 US Diplomat as EU mulls sanctions
Also on Thursday, in a sign of increasing east-west tensions, the US State Department confirmed that the its deputy Ambassador to Russia, had been asked to leave the country.
Elsewhere, the European Union's High Representative, Josep Borrell, stated that the EU was ready with a sanctions package.
If there were to be "aggression" Mr Borrell underlined that he would immediately present the sanctions' package to be signed off by EU Foreign Ministers.
Josep Borrell at the European Council on Thursday
UK Foreign Secretary warns Russia of "Pariah Status"
In a separate development, the United Kingdom, Ukraine and Poland announced a "Trilateral Memorandum of Co-operation".
According to a press statement by the UK Foreign Office, this would focus on cyber and energy security and efforts to counter disinformation."
Later at a Press conference, in Kyiv, UK Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, called on Russia to "step back from the brink".
If Russia invaded Ukraine, there would be "massive consequences bringing Russia severe economic costs and pariah status," she said.