US President Biden says Washington has reasons to believe that Russia is going to attack Ukraine, citing intelligence gatherings.

US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on his administration's efforts to pursue deterrence and diplomacy in response to Russia’s military buildup on the border of Ukraine, from the White House in Washington, US, February 18, 2022.
US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on his administration's efforts to pursue deterrence and diplomacy in response to Russia’s military buildup on the border of Ukraine, from the White House in Washington, US, February 18, 2022. (Reuters)

US President Joe Biden has said he's “convinced” that Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to launch a further invasion in Ukraine, including an assault on its capital Kiev.

“As of this moment I’m convinced he’s made the decision,” Biden said on Friday.

“We have reason to believe that.” He reiterated that it could occur in the “coming days.”

After weeks of saying the US wasn’t sure if Putin had made the final decision to launch a widespread invasion, Biden said that assessment had changed, citing the Americans' “significant intelligence capability.”

Meanwhile, the Kremlin announced massive nuclear drills to flex its military muscle, and Putin pledged to protect Russia’s national interests against what it sees as encroaching Western threats.

READ MORE: Separatists evacuate civilians as tensions between Russia, Ukraine simmers

Lavrov-Blinken meeting

But with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken scheduled to speak with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on February 24th, Biden said there is still time for negotiations to defuse the crisis.

"Diplomacy is always a possibility," he said.

Biden said Moscow is conducting a disinformation campaign, including, accusing Kiev of planning its own attack in order to create a pretext for a Russian invasion.

"There is simply no evidence to these assertions and it defies basic logic to believe the Ukrainians would choose this moment, with well over 150,000 (Russian) troops arrayed on its borders, to escalate a years-long conflict," Biden said.

"All these are consistent with the play book the Russians have used before to set up a false justification to act against Ukraine," Biden said at the White House.

READ MORE: Putin to oversee nuclear drills with Ukraine tensions high

Leaving Ukraine is up to Zelenskyy

Biden also questioned whether it was a "wise choice" for his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy to leave the country.

"In the pursuit of a diplomatic solution, it may not be, it may be the wise choice. But it's his decision," Biden said during a press conference, when asked about Zelenskyy's intention to travel to this weekend's Munich Security Conference.

As a further indication that the Russians continue preparations for a potential invasion, a US defence official said on Friday an estimated 40 percent to 50 percent of the ground forces deployed in the vicinity of the Ukrainian border have moved into attack positions nearer the border.

That shift has been underway for about a week, other officials have said and does not necessarily mean Putin has decided to begin an invasion. 

READ MORE: Ukraine, Russian-backed rebels trade new shelling claims as tensions soar

Source: TRTWorld and agencies