After for weeks firmly denying that there are any plans in place for a Russian invasion of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin on Tuesday said the United States is actively trying to goad Russia into an armed conflict with Ukraine. The Russian president suggested this would be used as a pretext to severely isolate Russia both economically and diplomatically on the world stage.
"Their most important task is to contain Russia’s development," he said of Washington aims. "Ukraine is just an instrument of achieving this goal. It can be done in different ways, such as pulling us into some armed conflict and then forcing their allies in Europe to enact those harsh sanctions against us that are being discussed today in the United States."
The Biden administration has lately touted far-reaching sanctions against Putin's inner circle, oligarchs, energy firms and banks - and has even threatened sanctions on the Russian leader personally. At the same time the Senate is readying a "mother of all sanctions" package. All of these options would be akin to the type of all encompassing US-led measures currently in place which have wrecked Iran's economy.
Putin further said the US has thus far refused to meet its conditions and take seriously its legitimate security concerns. He stressed Tuesday "that the principal Russian concerns turned out to be ignored."
"I hope that eventually we will find this solution though it’s not easy, we understand that," Putin added. "But to talk today about what that will be — I am, of course, not ready to do that."
On Wednesday, the Biden administration for the first time ordered the deployment of up to 3,000 troops to NATO 'eastern flank' countries - including Romania and Poland, aimed at deterring what Washington sees as a potential "imminent" Russian invasion of Ukraine, despite the Ukraine government itself lately downplaying the threat.
Some of the Pentagon's own statements too have struck a less dire and urgent tone than those of the White House...
Pentagon: “We do not believe conflict is inevitable.” https://t.co/wfY5mfIwO1— Dan Linden (@DanLinden) February 2, 2022
Meanwhile, Kiev has continued to press for a diplomatic resolution, and for Moscow to withdraw it's force build-up from near the border...
"Ukraine is ready to negotiate with Russia in any format to look for a diplomatic solution to a military conflict between our countries that has lasted for eight years already," the foreign minister said during a press conference for foreign media that was broadcast on Facebook.
Among fears expressed by the Zelensky government is that Western powers would negotiate Ukraine's fate directly with Russia but without significant Ukrainian input. The Ukrainians have long worried about being sidelined as broader NATO-Russia issues are hashed out.