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tv   The Lead With Jake Tapper  CNN  February 18, 2022 1:00pm-2:00pm PST

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>> we're expecting president biden at any moment. "the lead" starts now. this as the state department says russia is already carrying out false flag operations and a source calls the outlook bleak. the news a lot of parent don't want their. new clues for why vaccines for children under 5 have been delayed and what scientists need to know to move forward. and emotions run like as a judge sentences the former police officer kim potter to two years for shooting and killing dante wright. welcome to "the lead." i'm pamela brown in for jake tapper. at any moment, president biden is expected to speak from the white house that a possible invasion from ukraine. a cnn official saying the latest
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assessment is, quote, bleak, and shows russia is moving forward with its preparations for an invasion. the united states now estimates 160 to 190,000 russian person relevant in and around ukraine. nearly double the number from three weeks ago. this includes troops on the borders and russian-led forces in ukraine. causing heightened concerns, an explosion in the eastern ukrainian city of donetsk which the u.s. state department calling a false flag operation. an attack to justify an incursion into ukraine. let's get straight to kaitlan collins at the white house. what are we expecting to hear from president biden in his speech? >> yeah. for the last several days, he's been having these one-on-one calls with world leaders ever since he spoke with president putin himself for about one hour. today he got they will all together. we've seen the cellments that have happened in the last 48
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hours. a lot of them, pretty similar to what we had seen from secretary blinken saying this is what it would look like in the lead up to a potential invasion into ukraine. don't expect any major announcements. we were told it will be more of an update like what we saw earlier this week. that was a pretty significant update when president biden came out and updated the troop numbers on what the russians have amassed on the border. what we knew to be about 130,000 to 150,000. he will come out and speak. he will give us updates about the intelligence he's satisfying on the moves that russia is making, given he has said, he does believe russia could invade any day now. it has been difficult for officials are say what day. we should note president biden will stay here in washington for the presidents day weekend. the white house has just announced he will hold a virtual
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g-7 meeting next thursday. of course, whether or not invasion happens before then remains to be seen. if that meeting still goes forward, that also remains to be seen. the two national security officials attributed the hack that happened in ukraine, that incareer attack that they said was one of the large nest their nation's history. now the white house feels comfortable to go on the record saying they do believe russia is responsible. >> we have assess that had russia was responsible for the distributed denial of service attacks that occurred earlier this week. i will note that the speed with which we made that attribution is very unusual. we've done so because of a need to call out the behavior quickly as part of holding nations accountable when they conduct disruptive or destabilizing cyber activity. >> reporter: throws the
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activities that are expected before an attack. they are moving with speed to aremember the you'd that to rur. faster than they typically would for something like this. >> it certainly caught may eye, how quickly they did that. live from ukraine, and jill doherty, live from moscow. there are indications we have false flag operations, the white house now confirming russia is behind the cyberattacks already underway in ukraine. how critical is this moment for biden? >> reporter: well, it certainly feels like a critical moment for people here in ukraine. there is no question. we're seeing a steady uptick in activity of all different varieties, both in terms of the shelling, going back and forth on the front line positions that had largely been frozen and mostly quiet for some years now, and we're also seeing what ukrainian officials in tandem with u.s. officials are calling
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false flag operations. or staged provocations, is the expression being used here. to give you an example. the city of donetsk in that pro separatist held areas, the breakaway republics. today we heard sirens blaring. the leader of one of the breakaway republics come forward and urge civilians to leave saying there was an imminent ukrainian military major offensive. what was interesting was that when cnn went closer and looked at the meta data of this video message that this pro separatist leader delivered, we found in fact this message was recorded two days ago. not today. very shortly after that, we've also seen images of a regime ablaze in the same city, in donetsk. separatist leaders saying this
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was an attack, an explosion, a car bomb. the car belonged to the head of security for donetsk. again saying, this is a staged provocation. what you have here, what people fear you may have is the makings of some kind of a pretext for president putin to launch an incursion of sorts. we are also seeing now video of buses taking people, civilians, from these areas into russia. allegedly for safety at the urging of their leadership. it's not clear at this stage that there is any actual reason for any of this to take place other than the fact that what you may be looking at is a scenario where they are manufacturing some kind of a refugee crisis, again, in order to allow the russians to have that pretext that we have heard u.s. officials warning about for quite some time now to launch some kind of an incursion. it is important for our viewers to understand, pamela, that the
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people living in those areas, 600,000 of them, now have russian passports. and we've seen vladimir putin do this time and again. not just in this conflict. also in georgia in 2008. handing out passports and then using these false flag operations as an excuse to go in and protect russian passport holders, or russian nationals. so definitely, i would say, some concerning developments on the ground today and as i said in the beginning, the shelling also continues at a much more intense pace on those front lines than we have been used to in the past years. >> which is very notable. it shows an escalation that is happening right now, jill. earlier this week, president biden had said there is, quote, plenty of room for diplomacy. is there anything he can say today that he hasn't already said to persuade vladimir putin to de-escalate? >> reporter: i don't think
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really at this point you can. all the cards are on the table. and what we're seeing right now, in fact, it was interesting, what clarissa was talking about. here in moscow, there is a palpable sense that something is changing. we've had a lot of images on russian tv all day of the people who are being evacuated. we don't know how many. loaded on to buses. very touching pictures of women, older women, children being taken from those russian speaking areas in eastern ukraine, breakaway regions, over to russia. president putin today appearing with president look shenka of belarus where all the military exercises have been taking place. and president putin essentially lake it out there saying, look, kyiv right now can solve this. what they have to do is sit down at the table with the leaders of
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these breakaway republics and solve -- get on the political issues, et cetera, so there can be some type of resolution. and then i have to note that one of the, i would say strongest images we're about to see which will come probably saturday, tomorrow, is president putin is going to be holding these, or the military will be holding strategic military exercises that will include ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and president putin presiding over it. and of course, that is a reminder that russia is a nuclear power. so we have a lot of images. information war at a very high pace at this point. >> president biden has tried to move past his chaotic withdrawal from afghanistan and the stain it left on america's global reputation. how is the white house trying to use the stand-off to fix that? >> i think a lot of it has to do with the officials who are working in this biden
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administration right now, many also worked here in 2014. the last time they saw russia take a similar effort to what they believe they are trying to do right now. i think that they have really said, and been pretty clear that they're trying to handle it differently. that's one of the reasons you've seen them be so forth coming with intelligence. basically secretary blinken yesterday laying out what they thought could happen. it was lying reading an intelligence report of what they believed we could see russia do in the lead-up to an invasion and once an attack actually began. this comes as they've had these concerns of what he can do. the misinformation, the chaos that they can try to sow. one of the concerns they have now, we are told, president zelensky, the ukrainian leader, going to munich as he is scheduled to go for the security conference. the same one that secretary blinken is at and vice president harris is at, attending in germany. they have some concern. they haven't explicitly asked him not to go but they have some
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concerns about him leaving the country. making a flight that's about two, two and a half hours, and being out of country at such an intense time. maybe vladimir putin will try to put this idea out there that he's fled the country. maybe air travel could get disrupted if an attack does go forth. so those are concerns they've had internally. they're not making them clear publicly. they're saying if he wants to go, if he thinks it is wise to go, he has the support of the united states behind him. but it does speak to just how unstable the times are. and the concerns really over what has happen in the last 48 hours or so. >> where do things stand on that in terms of, i think the last they know i read was that he, the plans could change depending on the situation, right? >> if we see real signs of invasion, if he leaves the country, what would be the situation and underhand. we've seen all these meetings scheduled over the next several days. everybody keeps saying that
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depends if there's an invasion or not. so far we have not heard of any plans of zelensky to cancel his meetings. one of those meetings is with vice president harris. so that's something they place high importance on. we haven't heard of him canceling. that is about 24 hours from now. i'll be watching closely to see what russian state media is saying about this. what putin is putting out there as well. >> that's why we love hearing from jill who is tracking all of that. and clarissa, you're tracking from ukraine. most are saying biden administration officials have privately urged the ukrainian president to stay in ukraine this weekend, as kaitlan just mentioned. that concern behind the scenes. they do not want him to travel to munich where world leaders are gathered for a security conference. why do you think they want him to stay in kyiv from your perspective? >> reporter: i think from the ukrainian perspective, it is very important to not show that
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you are panicking, that you are six you willing to the fever pitch of rhetoric around this imminent invasion. it is understandable that president zelensky is still planning to continue ahead and go to the security conference to try to show that life continues as normal. he's the leader of a state and he has important meetings lined up and he wants to go and attend those. particularly at a moment of crisis. some of those as kaitlan pointed out, are potentially very important. from the u.s.' perspective, they're looking at this in a very different light. they're clearly interpreting it in a very different way than the ukrainians have been interpreting. and of course, there is concern that he could be weakened politically if he was shut out of the country somehow. if there was a worst-case scenario. in the back draft to all of this is not just the destabilization
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of, that an imminent invasion would bring, an actual invasion, but the political destabilization that is already happening on the ground in ukraine as a result of this crisis. and this is something that president putin is actively trying to foment. eroding support for zelensky's government, trying to make them appear weak, i timpotent and tht is why we are seeing the strident tones in ways we haven't seen before. they want to take control of the narrative on the ground and show that they are not, that they are unflappable, if you will. that they are not going to allow themselves to get hysterical or panicked by this whole situation. that's an important image for ukrainians. >> stick around as we await to hear from president biden. and he is expected to speak from the white house, addressing the world about the possibility of a
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it's an important part of understanding who we are. ♪ we are back with our world lead as we await from president biden on this escalating situation between russia and ukraine. jill, what do you think? we just heard from the white house warning of the extensive sanctions they're considering. they're saying these would be the most powerful sanctions to date. why have those warnings not been a deterrent so far for putin? there has not been a full invasion. we've seen more troops amassing. we've seen the false flag operations. the u.s. now blames russia for the cyberattacks on ukraine this week.
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>> reporter: you know, pamela, sanctions have been imposed for a very long time. when you look at ukraine, it's been happening since crimea which would be 2014. and there is a debate, you know. do they actually work? now, concretely, they have damaged the russian economy. there is no question. but putin decided early on that what he was going to have is counter sanctions. so what he did was he deliberately said, no european products, no european cheese, et cetera. but he also began building up domestically some of the industries that really weren't very well developed. so he's been able to, i would say, overcome some of those sanctions by building up domestically. but they have been hurt. the question is, will that economic math work with putin at this point? because there are issues that really go to the core of what he
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thinks about russia's role, what he thinks about his own role in the world, the place of ukraine, his whole idea is based on the, on this concept that he has which is very emotional, too, that at the end of the cold war, russia was weak and the west, especially the united states, essentially forced russia to do what the west wanted. and he would say, you know, we were on our knees at this point but we're not on our knees today. he's built up financial reserves. a $620 billion. so he has been preparing to withstand a lot of pressure. and do i believe that it goes just i don't understand that mathematics of will it hurt, won't it hurt, it's a deeply held feeling that he wants a sphere of influence around russia, and that includes
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countries like ukraine, like georgia, that used to be part of the soviet union and he cannot count nance having them either as member of nato or even tacitly, realistically, pro forma members of nato. >> yeah. and it's interesting. on that note, the white house, a white house official said today that the west would emerge from this if this invasion does happen, more united to share core principles than at any point in the post-war era. clearly the white house is banking on that to try to deter putin. he does not want a more united nato. and kaitlan, i'm wondering. we're about to hear from president biden. he is going to be laying the groundwork, of course. why is this moment so important? we know he talked to vladimir putin last weekend. he has been very forceful with what he has said to date. what does the white house hope to accomplish with his speech today? >> i think it is also notable.
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this is his second speech that he's given dedicated to this this week. before this, it had been some days before he addressed this topic solely. may be he answered a question here or there but they were watching to see the moves putin was making. of course they've been talking openbly the satellite images that have provided for everyone to see the troop movements and how they added to the force posture in and around ukraine. when you hear from the president today, it will be more of an update as did he when he updated the troop numbers, talking about how many they've seen. and that is important to point out, given russia is claiming that they're drawing down troops. the white house is saying that is a lie. they're actually adding forces and they are putting them in positions where they would be ready for an attack to happen. so it is also countering the narrative there and saying, this is what we do know russia is doing and here's why we know it. so i think that's expected to be what we hear from president biden here in a few moments as
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well. it is notable how much time he's dedicated to this publicly. what the white house is doing is setting up meetings in the coming days. i mentioned the meetings that president biden will do. next thursday, a lot of time between now and then, the president himself has said an invasion could happen at any time. but secretary blinken, secretary of state, is now scheduled to meet with the foreign minister sergey lavrov. that's something, when he was speaking at the united nations yesterday, he said he extended that letter to have them meet. granted an invasion had not happened by that point, by wednesday. of course, that's several days away. we have no idea what will happen between now and then. it is notable that they are trying to continue to keep the russians talking over the next several days. >> it is notable as we see some activity. i want to bring in alex marquardt for more on that. there has been an escalation in eastern ukraine.
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specifically in the donbas region. the u.s. thinks this is likely a false flag attack being carried out by russia, right? >> reporter: yeah. we've talked about russia's hybrid warfare. not just what they're doing with their military, not just what they're doing in terms of cyber which as we know, the white house just said this week's attacks they did attribute to the gru. but it this incredible disinformation campaign that they've been engaged in that got kicked into a higher gear today. there are these two regions in eastern ukraine. the breakaway enclaves. they call themselves republic that's have been out of the reach of kyiv for the last eight years and backed by russia. the two leaders there simultaneously this evening said that they were calling on their citizens to evacuate to russia, to head east edwards into russia. they said they wanted their populations to do that because they accused ukraine of mounting an operation along their border.
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a defensive operation. that they were putting troops and weapons along the border to attack. one of them asked the men to pick up arms and fight. of course, pam, there is no sense that ukraine would carry out any sort of offensive operation against they will. it is one of these seemingly false flag or staged operations that the likes of which secretary blinken and others have repeatedly said russia could raise as a justification to invade ukraine. and it does come at the same time that we are seeing an increase in the shelling along this line of contact, as it is known. the front line between ukrainian fighters and russia-backed fighters which is just 15 miles behind me. that for the past few years has seen so much fighting. 14,000 people dead. and so this is growing. yesterday, there were some 60 violations of that cease fire. the biggest number in almost
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four years. we saw the shelling of that kindergarten, a little ways north of here. so there is a significant fear that russia is ratcheting things up. pro russian forces ratcheting things up in a way that president putin could then say, hey, look, there are these ethnic russians in eastern ukraine. these russian speakers under attack. we need to step in and try to help them. >> that would be right out of russian play book for sure. the u.s. now says russia has probably amassed up to 190,000 person nell and near ukraine. that's a big uptake from three weeks ago. plus, president putin is planning to attend military drills where ballistic and cruise missiles will be launched this weekend. what does all that tell you? >> reporter: well, again, facts, the united states is saying that there is an enormous number that has increased. president putin, i think, is doing more the information warfare part of it.
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granted, it is part of this exercise. they were going to hold these straeg exercises in the fall. they didn't do that. they moved them up to now. and it is a very convenient time to remind the world that russia is a nuclear power. and that is certainly a message that goes way beyond ukraine. it goes to u.s.-russia relations and to the world. so i think the kremlin now is sending a lot of different messages through very specific on the ground people on buses, being evacuated. and then to the bigger picture of their role in the world as a super power. there are a lot of things that when in conflict situations like this, it is multilayered. so you have the military part, the diplomatic part, you have the information war part, and many other things. and all of them, i think now, are coalescing at this moment
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that does feel different. i have to say here in moscow today, it does feel more nervous. it is a little more unsettled, and watching tv, russian state tv with all those pictures of people being evacuated. it has a different atmosphere to it than it did just a day or two ago. >> that is such important context. even in washington, you can feel that too. i'm sure kaitlan can agree. we've been hearing from administration officials for quite some time that russia could invade any moment. but certainly given what you laid out there in these, the incremental escalations, it does feel different for sure. we are still standing by. you see the podium there, for a speech from president biden as he trays on convince russia.
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we expect to hear any moment from president biden about the russia-ukraine crisis. you can see the podium there at the white house. i want to bring back our team of reporters. kaitlan, let's go to you first. let's talk about the impact it could have on america. u.s. stocks fell again today. investors clearly uneasy as we loom at the edge of war. how much is the white house concern about the impact a possible invasion could have on americans? >> reporter: they are concerned about it. that's one thing president biden has tried to make clear, how much it impacts americans. maybe some look at and it say, i
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see where ukraine is, i see where russia is. what does this have to do with me and my household? something president biden could repeat in a few moments, talking about the impact a russian invasion could have on the energy market and energy prices. that could translate to higher gas prices when people are already paying more. so they've been cognizant of the fact russia could invade and certainly was preparing to have the capability to invade of making sure they can shore up the capabilities in case this is an acute for the white house, given that it is something they've been worried about with inflation, higher gas praise, and now if this happens, it is another thing they have to worry about. one other thing we talked about today, when the national security advisers came out and attributed the cyber attack, talking about threats to the united states. theptd there are no credible
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threat to the homeland. she is encouraging the water company, utility companies to make sure they're ihyper vigilant. they are making clear this isn't something that could just impact ukraine. it could have wide ranging effects on eastern europe, all of europe and here as well. >> could it impact all of america. today they said the ukrainian military has no plans to launch an offensive in the breakaway eastern regions of ukraine. why are those reassurances so important right now? >> reporter: for the same reason we've seen the u.s. being so forward in what they are learning and telling us all what to expect so when it does arise, it can be shot down very quickly. in that respect, the u.s. and ukraine are very much on the same page. they are expecting to see things like false flag operations and these pretexts that russia could
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gin up in order to come up with an excuse to invade ukraine. so they're in lockstep to shoot down any of these things. the conventional wisdom is that a russian invasion would be preceded by one of these excuses like aggression, they would say, against russian speakers in eastern ukraine. i think it is also interesting to see where the daylight is between the united states and ukraine. they have seen similar intelligence take. for example, the 150,000 russian troops that are around ukraine that biden mentioned the last time he spoke. the ukrainians believe that to be a similar number. but while the u.s. says that an invasion could go straight to kyiv, that they could do significant damage and conduct a large scale invasion, the ukrainians reject that. they say that is not a big enough number to carry out a large scale invasion. to take and to hold kyiv.
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the ukrainians since day one have been trying to keep their population calm to stop panic from spreading. to prevent chaos from spreading. and three been rather successful. when you travel across this country as we have the past two weeks, the first thing that really strikes you is this remarkable calm and lack of panic. we haven't seen any outward signs of panic in the streets. we don't see people driving out of town to go somewhere else. we dome see people going to shops to stock up their cupboards. we don't see people fleeing. it is absolutely remarkable. at the same time, of course there is major concern. especially in a place like mariupol, so close to the fighting, where there has been shelling and people killed in the last few years. there is real concern. at the same time, what you hear over and over again is that we have lived with this. we have lived next to russia for so long. we've lived with the russian-backed forces fighting against our troops since 2014
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when they invaded crimea and annexed crimea. what we hear over and over again from the civilians all the way to president zelensky the other day. he said, this is not the ukraine of 2014. this is ukraine of 2022. our military has been built up. it is much stronger. it is much more stream lined. we have the backing of the united states, of nato. they have those weapons and they have the training. so they claim that they are ready to fate. they are ready to confront a russian threat. if russia decides to come in, it won't be like crimea was last time. i was there eight years ago. the russians took crimea without firing a single shot. it wouldn't be like this this time between ukrainian military, the reservists, the territorial defenses as they call them. people in the street who would just pick up arms. you would see a much heavier dose of fighting. a much higher level of fighting.
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it would be a lot bloodier and that's why you're hearing from people like general milley at the pentagon saying this would be incredibly bloody. very horrific. and you would see tens of thousands of people dying. and likely, hundreds of thousands, if not millions of ukrainians fleeing, trying to get out of the country. >> and yet even in that scenario, as you point out, there is still a sense of calm among the civilians there in eastern ukraine. i want to go back to you, jill organization the information wars playing out. you're in moscow. you're taking in everything being put out there in russia. a top white house official attributed the latest cyber attacks to russia, wondering if there is been any response to russia from that. and what else is going on with russia in terms of messaging right now? >> not specifically that i've seen. but of course, they will deny it. but i think one of the, if you look at overall messaging from
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russia. overall messaging is that russia doesn't want war. it has no intention of attacking ukraine. but there is kind of a caveat. but if there is a reason, if we, or more specifically, our compatriots who live in that eastern part of ukraine, the russian speakers and the donbas region. president putin years ago made the case for protecting russian speakers wherever they may be. and so he's laid the case. he's actually, i would say, a legal case to protect those people. so i think what they would set up now is that if they are attacked, we have a sacred duty to protect them. that would mean they could go in and protect. that's kind of i think what's going on. up with of the complications here is that you know, in all of these diplomatic discussions with the united states, nato,
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osce. it's been remax malist. revamping the cold war. the distribution of forces. everything that came after the end of the cold war. nato is saying, you're not going to get it. so how do you climb down from that? that's the issue right now. can the united states, can nato, really, the united states, find any way to have a discussion, maybe even as some former diplomats have been mentioning to me, maybe even something off the grid. something private. something not public, be some type of discussion with russia that might be able to come up with something face saving that would give president putin the reason to say, we won something. we got something from the west. but we don't know that.
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and so far it doesn't appear that that is happening. so i think that's the dilemma that they've asked for a lot. and they're saying, unless we have the entire package deal, they actually used the word package. we're not going to have an agreement. >> yeah. knowing they won't capitulate without getting something for it. kaitlan, we just learned that biden's national security adviser, jake sullivan, isn't with the president. necessary brussels. that mean nearly all of president biden's top officials are in europe right now. >> reporter: yeah. almost every single one. knees brussels. we're waiting to hear how long he's expected to be on the ground there, engaging in meetings which comes at a very important time, given the developments happened over the last 48 hours. it does mean almost every one of the president's top national security advisers is in europe because there is this maungs
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security conference underway. that's what vice president harris will speak at tomorrow. she is expected to deliver a speech. also meet with the ukrainian president. blinken is there, several top officials are there. all at an important time, a lot of pre schedule visit that's they were expected to go to but they matter all the more now with the ongoing crisis, the numbers that alex was just laying out. so it remains to be seen what exactly, what jake sullivan's conversations were. it does play an important back drop. in this speech that president biden is going to give, what he's expected to say of what is happening in these back and forth conversations that he's having with world leaders and the top aides are having with their foreign counter parts as well. >> and we are still waiting for president biden's remarks. he is expected to address the world about the possibility of a russian invasion of ukraine. we'll be right back.
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the intelligence they've seen of the posture, the positions, the amassing of these troops on ukraine's border, he is hoping that invasion doesn't ultimately happen. that's the strategy they try to take. by oversharing the intelligence, by making clear what they think the moves that putin will take, that it could deter him from taking those moves. by floating the dates, the certain tactic that's he's taking, going into detail yesterday of what that manufactured reason for invading could be, saying it could be a fake chemical weapons attack, a real chemical weapons attack, a drone strike. all of these matters that they've picked up on are things that russia is considering and putin is considering. he said he does hope they're wrong. that this invasion does not happen. but what we hear from officials is they think they're right. they do believe this is what putin is preparing to do. you heard secretary austin saying yesterday. defense secretary austin. i've been a soldier before, he
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said, and you don't take these steps and get all of these forces ready. 150,000 on the border area. we know it is a much larger number when you count all the russian personnel, if you're not prepared to take a step like this one. and you hear about how many it mean to putin based on his world view, something you've heard people like fiona hill that worked for former president trump, talk about. so i think they are making a calculus here by saying an invasion is expected to happen any day now. of course, whether or not it does remain to be seen. but they seem pretty confident that putin is taking the steps to do that. >> in the meantime, president zelensky is still scheduled to go to munich for a security conference tomorrow. people inside the biden administration have urged zelensky to stay in ukraine. what do you think zelensky's calculations are for making this decision? >> reporter: well, what we've
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seen for quite some time now is daylight between the two sides. you've heard this urgency from the united states. they have been accused of alarmism by ukraine. two weeks ago, ukraine's foreign minister said that you're hearing these apocalyptic predictions from certain capitals. certainly a prediction. nato has been banging this drum for quite some time. a significant russian invasion could happen very soon. exactly a week ago, pamela, we were right here listening to jake sullivan stand at the podium of the white house saying there is a very good chance a significant chance, he said, that russia could invade ukraine by this coming sunday. the end of the olympics. we heard president zelensky, meanwhile, during course of the week essentially mocking the time line. he didn't call out the u.s. directly but did he say following the sullivan comments,
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if you have information that says 100% that russia will invade on a certain day, please give it to me. he said we have other information. we need to analyze this information. you will recall this week he announced a d a day of unity. he said we were told russia would invade on february 16th. we'll have this day of unity instead. so there is this alarm where ukrainian leaders have not been as convinced that a, russia would invade, and b, that they would do it as imminently. so that is probably playing into the calculation of why he is now going to munich. of course, as kaitlan has noted, he does have this important meeting with vice president harris tomorrow. he is still extremely reliant on the united states and he's been walking this very careful line of downplaying the urgency of the invasion, but agreeing the
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united states saying that it is possible. he keeps asking the united states for more and more weapons. we know on his phone call with president biden, he asked for more military aid, more financial aid. he asked president biden to come to ukraine and visit. so clearly, he does feel there is enough of a chance that russia could invade that he's going to keep asking for those things. but you have just not felt this sense of alarm from ukrainian leadership that you have heard from u.s. leadership. time and time again, they've cast doubt on whether russia would actually do it. and even so, they say, we are ready to fate. >> but now we're in this situation where we are seeing some movement. we've seen escalation with russia increasing the troops. moving the forces closer to ukraine. what do you think it would take for putin to decide against an invasion? >> reporter: boy, that's the
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question. i think, you know, the only -- he has to get something out of this. and what he wants is a matchimalist position. he want this zone of influence. special influence along the border of russia. now, you might be able, and i've been talking with former diplomats and diplomats. you might be able to come to an agreement which says we will have security talks. a big sub. and that we will listen to what you're talking about and we may do some talking in discussions, et cetera. but they've tried that by taking parts of what the russians demanded in the beginning with this back and forth diplomatic letters. they wanted the entire package. the united states and nato said, we'll talk about disposition of
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forces in europe along the border. we'll talk about other issues. and the russians so far have that, that's not enough. you're just breaking it apart to your advantage. we want the entire package you're talking about. so in the end, if you remember, you probably don't but i do, the cuban missile crisis. and in the cuban missile crisis, they were able behind the scenes to solve certain issues. u.s. took missiles out of turkey. it wasn't publicized at the time but it helped to bring it to the end. a year later, the first nuclear arms control agreement. and you know, khrushchev could say, i want something. did i something for humanity. so there are ways of doing this but we don't know whether it will work with president putin. >> on that note -- oh, here's president biden walking out. let's listen in.
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>> good afternoon. today, i made two vital calls as i've been making for some months now. two vital calls that, on the situation in russia and ukraine. the first was to a bipartisan group of members of congress who are currently representing the united states, along with vice president harris at the munich security conference. the second was the latest in a series of calls over the past many months with the heads of state of our nato allies and the european union. on the date on what the united states thinks is the current state of affairs and what is likely to happen to ukraine in the coming days, to ensure that we continue to remain in lock step. that is the european union and
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nato. despite russia's efforts to divide us at home and abroad, i can affirm that has not happened. the overwhelming message on both calls was one of unity, determination and resolve. i shared with all those on the calls, what we know about a rapidly escalating crisis in ukraine. over the last few days, we've seen reports of a major uptick in violations of the cease fire by russian-backed fighters attempting to provoke ukraine in the donbas. for example, a shelling of ukrainian kindergarten yesterday which russia has falsely asserted was carried out by ukraine. we also continue to see more and more disinformation being pushed out to the russian public including russian-backed separatists, claiming that ukraine is planning to launch a massive offensive attack in the donbas. look, there is no evidence these
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assertions, and it defies basic logic to believe the ukrainians would choose this moment with well over 150,000 troops arrayed on its borders, to escalate a year-long conflict. russia state media continue to make phony allegations of a genocide taking place in the donbas and push fabricated claims warning about ukraine's attack on russia without any evidence. just what ukraine is thinking of doing. attacking russia. all of these are squint the play book the russians have used before. to set up a false justification to act against ukraine. this is also in line with the pretext scenario that's the united states and our allies and partners have been warning about for weeks. throughout these tense moments, the ukrainian forces have shown great judgment, and i might add, restrain. they've refused to allow the russians to bait them into war. the fact remains, russian troops
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currently have ukraine surrounded from belarus along the russian border, and with ukraine to the black sea in the south and all of its border. look. we have reason to believe the russian forces are planning and intend to attack ukraine in the coming week, the coming days. we believe that they will target ukraine's capital kyiv. a city of 2.8 million innocent people. we're calling out russia's plans loudly and repeatedly. not because we want a conflict but because we're doing everything in our power to remove every reason russia may give to justify this. make no mistake. if russia pursues its plans, it will be responsible for a catastrophic and needless war of choice. the united states and our allies are prepared to protect every inch of nato territory to our collective threat of security as
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well. we will not send troops into ukraine but will continue to support the ukrainian people. this past year the united states provided a record amount of security assistance to ukraine to bolster its defensive. $650 million from javelin missiles to ammunition. we also previously provided $500 million to ukraine and humanitarian aid and economic support for ukraine. and earlier this weekering with also announced an additional sovereign loan guarantee of up to $1 billion for the economic resilience. the bottom line is this. the united states and our allies and partners will support the ukrainian people. we will hold russia accountable for its actions. the west is united and resolved. we're ready to impose severe sanctions on russia if it further invades ukraine. i say again. russia can still choose diplomacy. it is not too late to de-escalate and return to the
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negotiating table. last night russia agreed to secretary of state blinken and foreign minister lavrov should meet february 24th. february 24th, in europe. but if russia takes military action before that date, it will be clear that they have slammed the door shut on diplomacy. they will have chosen war and they will pay a steam price for doing so. not only from the hispanics we and our allies will impose on russia but the more outraged the rest of the world will visit upon them. there are many issues that divide our nations and our world. standing up to russian aggression is not one of them. the american people are united. europe is united. the tran atlantic community is united. the entire free world is united. russia has a choice between war and all the suffering it will


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