Biden says Putin has decided to invade Ukraine
BIDEN: "As of this moment I'm convinced he's made the decision."
U.S. President Joe Biden said on Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to invade Ukraine, and that he continues to spread false information... building a pretext for a military strike that could happen in days.
"We believe that they will target Ukraine's capital of Kyiv, a city of 2.8 million innocent people. We're calling out Russia's plans loudly and repeatedly, not because we want a conflict, but because we're doing everything in our power to remove every reason that Russia may give to justify invading Ukraine, and prevent them from moving."
Biden said Russia is pushing out disinformation, and said Russia-backed separatists have falsely claimed Ukraine is planning an attack.
"There is simply no evidence of these assertions, and it defies basic logic to believe the Ukrainians would choose this moment, with well over 150,000 troops arrayed on its borders to escalate a year-long conflict."
Earlier Friday, separatists backed by Moscow told civilians in eastern Ukraine to leave breakaway regions on buses, saying they would evacuate hundreds of thousands of citizens to Russia; a move the US believes could be part of a pretext for an attack.
Russia wants to stop Ukraine from joining NATO and accuses the West of hysteria, saying it has no plans to invade.
Moscow has released footage it says shows it is withdrawing troops from the border, but the U.S. and allies are adamant the military build-up is continuing.
Biden's comments came after a phone call with leaders of NATO, the European Union and several countries. The leaders pledged to continue pursuing diplomacy while preparing to impose swift, coordinated economic sanctions on Russia should it choose further conflict.