Schiff says Ukraine invasion ‘likely’ as Biden prepares for Zelensky call

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Schiff says Ukraine invasion 'likely' as Biden prepares for Zelensky call

Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Sunday he believes it is “very likely” that Russia will invade Ukraine as President Biden prepared for another call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky about the tense standoff.

“I fear that Putin is very likely to invade. I still, frankly, don’t understand the full motivation for why, why now he’s doing this. But he certainly appears intent on it unless we can persuade him otherwise,” Schiff (D-Calif.) said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.”

“And I think nothing other than a level of sanctions that Russia has never seen will deter him, and that’s exactly what we need to do with our allies,” he added.

Biden said he warned President Vladimir Putin during their phone call on Thursday that he will be hit with “severe sanctions” if an attack is launched against Ukraine.

“I made it clear to President Putin that we will have severe sanctions, we will increase our presence in Europe, with NATO allies,” Biden told reporters last Friday.

President Biden on a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on December 9, 2021. The two leaders are scheduled to hold another call amid tensions at the border between Ukraine and Russia.
President Biden on a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on December 9, 2021. The two leaders are scheduled to hold another call today amid tensions at the border between Ukraine and Russia.
Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images

“We made it clear he cannot, I’ll emphasize, cannot, invade Ukraine,” the president said.

Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said it’s hard to gauge Putin’s intentions with Ukraine amid the buildup of thousands of Russian troops and heavy military equipment along Ukraine’s eastern border. 

“But what they are doing, we know, is threatening Ukraine as a valid elected democracy, both having invaded it prior and annexing portions of the country in Crimea and in the Donbass region, destabilizing the country, and seeking to have a portion of the country align itself with Russia, and then threatening the remainder of the country,” Turner said on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”

Biden will “reaffirm US support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity" in the call with Zelensky, according to a White House official.
Biden will “reaffirm US support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” in the call with Zelensky, according to a White House official.
Photo by HANDOUT/UKRAINE PRESIDENCY/AFP via Getty Images

“This is a real threat to NATO and the United States and certainly democracies. And the fact that Russia could be using tanks to change the map of the world against a democracy, I think, should be troubling to all of our allies,” Turner said.

Putin was hit with several rounds of sanctions after Russia illegally annexed Crimea in 2014 and began backing pro-separatist forces in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine.

Biden’s calls to Zelensky and Putin follow the Russian leader’s demand that the US and its European allies provide security guarantees that include not allowing Ukraine to become a member of NATO and not deploying missile systems inside the former Soviet bloc nation.

A White House official said Biden will “reaffirm US support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, discuss Russia’s military build-up on Ukraine’s borders, and review preparations for upcoming diplomatic engagements to help de-escalate the situation in the region.”

Ukrainian soldiers holding a training exercise on December 25, 2021 amid tensions with Russia.
Ukrainian soldiers holding a training exercise on December 25 amid tensions with Russia.
Photo by SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP via Getty Images

Sunday’s call with Zelensky will be the second between the two leaders in less than a month. 

Biden also spoke with Putin for more than two-hours during a virtual summit on Dec. 7.

Officials from Washington and Moscow are scheduled to discuss the security guarantees during a meeting Jan. 9-10 in Geneva. 

With Post wires

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