Even as Russian warships make their targets in the Black Sea, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called on the West to cool its rhetoric about a potential invasion, saying it is hurting the country’s economy. Your country is in danger.
“We shouldn’t panic. We have a strong army,” he told reporters on Friday.
These statements appear to contradict US President Joe Biden’s assessment of the security threat. In a phone call on Thursday, Biden told his Ukrainian counterpart there was a “clear possibility” of a Russian invasion of Ukraine in February.
When asked about Zelensky’s statement urging the West to refuse, White House Vice Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre informed the administration, noting the presence of more than 100,000 troops at the border. Ukrainian world.
“It’s a dangerous situation. And we’ve been saying for more than a week that Russia can invade at any time,” she said on Friday. “This is our message and we’ve been really consistent.”
Biden also told reporters on Friday that he plans to move some US troops to NATO allies in Eastern Europe “in the near future.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov again denied that claim, saying Moscow does not want war but is ready to wage one. Lavov said Russia would respond if it could not get security guarantees from Europe, but did not elaborate on how.
Zelensky also criticized several countries, including Canada, for withdrawing the families of diplomats from their embassies.
“I think it was a mistake,” he said. “I think the embassy staff should be here.”
NATO on Friday threatened again to impose severe economic sanctions on Russia should it invade. Jens Stoltenberg, the alliance’s general secretary, told CTV News’ Power Play channel that the Ukrainian military has more muscle and backing than it did eight years ago, when Russia annexed Crimea.
He said: “Ukrainian military will really be able to defend itself and defend Ukraine in a completely different way than in 2014. Ukraine of course has the right to defend itself.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Wednesday that Canada will expand Operation UNIFIER in Ukraine and will continue to send Canadian troops to train Ukraine’s armed forces and the national guard, a move Mr. Stoltenberg hailed. praise.
“Canada is one of the leading countries in NATO when it comes to providing assistance to Ukraine and you have been doing so for a very long time,” he said. “There aren’t many other countries with the same level of effort and doing as much as Canada.”
However, the head of NATO has dodged questions about whether Canada should supply Ukraine with weapons as other NATO countries have done.
“Different allies have different views on that. What Canada does has made a huge difference,” he said.