‘There is no contradiction’: Ukraine envoy says Kyiv and Washington agree on Russian invasion threat
Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations on Wednesday insisted that Kyiv and Washington are in agreement about the imminent threat of a Russian invasion, despite statements from top Ukrainian officials downplaying the potential for such a scenario.
“There is no contradiction between the Ukrainian and American assessment of the position,” Sergiy Kyslytsya, the Ukrainian envoy, told CNN. “That’s basically playing with words. The invasion is possible, and we are all on record alert. So there is no different reading between the U.S. administration and the Ukrainian administration about what’s going on at the borders of Ukraine.”
Top U.S. officials have recently escalated their warnings about further Russian aggression toward Ukraine, and the United States has ordered the relatives of U.S. embassy staffers in Ukraine to leave the country .
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said last week that the security situation was “now at a stage where Russia could at any point launch an attack in Ukraine,” and she reiterated on Tuesday that the invasion threat “remains imminent.”
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a televised address to the nation on Tuesday that his government was “strong enough to keep everything under control and derail any attempts at destabilization.”
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov also said on Tuesday that “as of today, there are no grounds to believe” Russia will invade imminently, telling the Ukrainian people : “Don’t worry, sleep well. No need to have your bags packed.”
On Wednesday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told CNN that although Russia’s military buildup along Ukraine’s border and in occupied territories poses “a direct threat,” the number of Russian troops — estimated to be roughly 100,000 — is “insufficient for a full-scale offensive.”
“They also lack some important military indicators and systems to conduct such a large full-scale offensive,” Kuleba said. “We can say 100 times a day invasion is imminent, but this doesn't change the situation on the ground.”
Kyslytsya, the Ukrainian envoy, appeared to echo Kuleba’s position on Wednesday. “We agree with the intelligence assessment that the Russian troops are amassed at the Ukrainian border at very impressive, unprecedented numbers — which is not still enough for the Russians to go in Ukraine and to hold the Ukrainian territory for a prolonged period of time,” he said.
“I’ll be completely honest with you: It’s a little bit like reading tea leaves,” Biden said. “Ordinarily, if it were a different leader … you’d say, ‘Well, that means that he is looking like he’s going to do something.’ But then you look at what [Putin’s] past behavior is and what everyone is saying in his team, as well as everyone else, as to what is likely to happen: It all comes down to his decision.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.