The White House National Security Council has denied reports that President Joe Biden warned Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a phone call that Kyiv would soon be “sacked” in an invasion by Russian military forces.
Emily Horne, a National Security Council spokeswoman, took to Twitter on Thursday to dismiss the alleged comments, which were reported by CNN.
Horne re-tweeted a post by CNN’s Senior National Security Correspondent Alexander Marquardt which cited a senior Ukrainian official.
“A Russian invasion is now virtually certain once the ground freezes, Biden said to Zelensky … Kyiv could be ‘sacked,’ Russian forces may attempt to occupy it, ‘prepare for impact’, Biden said,” the tweet reads.
However, Horne insisted that the report was “not true” and that “President Biden said that there is a distinct possibility that the Russians could invade Ukraine in February.”
“He has previously said this publicly and we have been warning about this for months. Reports of anything more or different than that are completely false,” she added.
The White House also issued a statement regarding the call between Biden and the Ukrainian President which states that the U.S. president “underscored the commitment of the United States to Ukraine’s sovereignty” and that the leaders “discussed coordinated diplomatic efforts on European security.”
Biden also “reaffirmed the readiness of the United States along with its allies and partners to respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine” the White House statement reads.
Ukraine’s embassy in Washington also shared a statement saying some reports regarding the phone call were “completely false.”
A spokesperson for Zelensky said the Ukrainian president “also encouraged to carefully treat all information in this troubled time especially from the unconfirmed sources.”
On Thursday, Zelensky himself also shared details of his conversation with Biden on Twitter.
“Had a long phone conversation with POTUS. Discussed recent diplomatic efforts on de-escalation and agreed on joint actions for the future. Thanked President Biden for the ongoing military assistance. Possibilities for financial support to Ukraine were also discussed,” he said.
However, some lawmakers, including Republican Rep. Banks (R-Ind.) are now demanding that Biden and the White House release the full transcript of his call with Zelensky, telling Fox News that “we have no idea what was said on this call.”
In December last year, Russia demanded that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) deny Ukraine and other former Soviet nations membership to the alliance and that NATO members scale back troop deployments in Central and Eastern Europe.
Washington and NATO allies rejected Russia’s demands but instead put forth a number of proposals while maintaining that they are open to dialogue with Moscow regarding issues such as arms control, confidence-building measures, and limits on military exercises.
However, the Kremlin responded by saying that “there is not much reason for optimism,” with regards to U.S. officials accepting its demands.
“It cannot be said that our considerations were taken into account or that any willingness to take into account our concerns was demonstrated,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters this week, adding that President Vladimir Putin would be analyzing the State Department’s responses.
“No matter how diametrically opposed our views sometimes are, dialogue is always needed,” he said.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also announced on Monday the Pentagon had placed 8,500 troops on “heightened alert” to assist with the defense of NATO allies but noted that “no decision has been made to deploy” any troops at this time.
However, Alexey Zaytsev, deputy spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, told reporters on Jan. 27. that Russia considers the idea of an armed conflict between Ukraine and Russia “unacceptable.”
“Our nation has likewise repeatedly stated that we have no intention to attack anyone,” Zaytsev said. “We consider the very thought that our people may go to war against each other unacceptable.”