According to U.S. intelligence, Russian military has been given the green light to invade Ukraine, and are “doing everything that American commanders would do once they got the order to proceed,” CBS National Security Correspondent David Martin said on “Face the Nation.”
“The intelligence says the Russian troops have actually received orders now to proceed with the invasion,” Martin stated. “So not only are they moving up closer and closer to the border and into these attack positions, but the commanders on the ground are making specific plans for how they would maneuver in their sector of the battlefield.”
The report appears to confirm remarks made at the White House Friday by President Biden, who stated, “As of this moment, I am convinced he’s made the decision.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken echoed the sentiment, also on Face the Nation.
“As President Biden said the other night, everything we’re seeing tells us that the decision we believe President Putin has made to invade is moving forward,” Blinken told Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan. “We’ve seen that with provocations created by the Russian or separatist forces over the weekend, false flag operations. Now the news just this morning that the quote, unquote “exercises” Russia was engaged in in Belarus with 30,000 Russian forces that were supposed to end this weekend will now continue because of tensions in eastern Ukraine, tensions created by Russia and the separatist forces it backs there.”
Secretary Blinken, who just returned from the Munich Security Conference with Vice President Kamala Harris, states the United States is in “lockstep” with its allies and is committed to trying to prevent Russian President Vladimir Putin from invading.
“[Vice President Harris] led our delegation there to make sure that we are in lockstep with allies and partners on everything that we’re going to do both to see if we can still prevent President Putin from carrying forth his decision, and if not, making sure that we’re fully coordinated with allies and partners on the response,” he stated. “They reiterated that massive consequences will follow if President Putin carries forth with the aggression.”
Brennan pressed Blinken on a comment he had made to her back in January, suggesting a U.S. response is already overdue.
“When we last spoke on January 23rd, you told me that if Russia engages in other tactics short of invasion – hybrid actions, cyber attacks, efforts to bring the government down – there will be a swift, calibrated, and united response,” Brennan stated. “Aren’t they doing all of those things right now? And where is the U.S. response?”
“First of all, we’ve taken significant action over the – in recent months supplying Ukraine with more defensive – lethal defensive assistance over the last year than at any previous years,” Blinken replied.
But, Brennan pointed out, the cyber attacks just happened.
“And we’ve worked closely with Ukraine to ward them off, to get back up and running,” Blinken stated. “We’ve now made an attribution to Russia for those cyber attacks. We’re looking closely at the response that that may call for. And we’re doing all of this in coordination with allies and partners. If Russia commits the aggression that may be in train, all of that has been part of our plan, and we’re carrying it forward.”
When asked if Blinken’s statement that he would meet with Russia’s top diplomat as long as Russia doesn’t invade is tantamount to giving Russia “carte blanche” to continue cyber attacks and funding separatists, Blinken rejected the notion, calling it “two separate things.”
“First of all, it’s not acceptable, and it’s one of the things that we’ve talked about in some detail with allies and partners this weekend,” he stated. “That is a scenario by which Russia just keeps things at a low or medium boil, and there will be a response to that, too.”
“But in terms of engaging Russia, my job as a diplomat is to leave absolutely no stone unturned and see if we can prevent a war,” he continued. “And if there’s anything that I can do to do that, I’m going to do it. President Biden has made very clear that he’s prepared to meet President Putin at any time in any format if that can help prevent a war. And as long as – even if the die is cast, until it’s settled, until we know that the tanks are rolling, the planes are flying, and the aggression has fully begun, we’re going to do everything we can to prevent it.”
“But we’re prepared either way,” Blinken stressed, “and we’re prepared with a response that will have massive consequences for Russia if it actually carries this through.”
Of the United State’s support for Ukraine should an invasion take place, Blinken stated President Biden will “double down” on its assistance.
“The President said that we will, in the event of an invasion, double down on our support for Ukraine,” Blinken said, “and that means in terms of security assistance, economic assistance, diplomatic assistance, political assistance, humanitarian assistance – you name it.”
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