Ukraine Hears Discouraging Assessments

UN Security Council will meet Monday on the border standoff
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 27, 2022 7:40 PM CST
Ukraine Hears Discouraging Assessments
An armed serviceman walks Thursday along a trench in territory controlled by pro-Russian militants on the frontline with Ukrainian government forces in eastern Ukraine.   (AP Photo/Alexei Alexandrov)

Ukraine received a series of grim assessments Thursday of the possibility of avoiding a Russian invasion. In a phone call, President Biden told Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky that there's a "distinct possibility" of Russian military action next month, the AP reports. The UK's defense minister said an invasion still could be headed off, per the BBC, but Ben Wallace said, "I'm not optimistic." Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesperson cautioned against reaching conclusions but agreed with Wallace. "There is not much cause for optimism," said Dmitri Peskov, per the New York Times.

No one said all hope is lost, but nothing broke Ukraine's way Thursday. Russia said Putin will need time to look over the US and NATO responses to its demands, which it received Wednesday. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's early read was that the US answer holds "no positive reaction," though he said he saw elements that could provide "the beginning of a serious conversation." In the meantime, per CNN, Russia has added to its force at the Ukraine border even "in the last 24 hours," the Pentagon said.

The US did call a meeting of the UN Security Council for Monday. That could lead to a US-Russia, face-to-face debate on the Ukraine issue, per the Times. US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield expressed impatience with the standoff. "This is not a moment to wait and see," she said. "The council’s full attention is needed now." Asked if the fact that Russia is still talking is a good sign, White House press secretary Jen Psaki was noncommittal. "We don't know if the Russians are playing games on diplomacy," she said. "We hope not." (A mass shooting at a defense plant added to the tension in Ukraine.)

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