Ukraine/Russland/NATO – Sammler 18. Februar 2022

Die Situation in und um die Ukraine entspannt sich nicht, im Gegenteil. Am Freitag riefen die selbsternannten Volksrepubliken im Osten der Ukraine ihre Bürger zur Evakuierung nach Russland auf. Für den morgigen Samstag kündigte Russland eine Übung seiner Atomstreitkräfte an. Der Sammler am 18. Februar 2022 (und ggf. fürs Wochenende):

• Die Übung der strategischen Abschreckungskräfte kündigte das russische Verteidigungsministerium am Freitagmorgen an. Aus der Meldung im englischen Dienst der russischen Nachrichtenagentur TASS:

„On February 19, 2022, a scheduled exercise of the strategic deterrence force will take place under the direction of Supreme Commander-in-Chief Vladimir Putin, during which ballistic and cruise missiles will be launched,“ the ministry said in a statement.
As the Russian Defense Ministry emphasized, „the strategic deterrence force drills have been planned in advance to inspect the preparedness of military command centers, launch combat teams, the crews of combat ships and strategic missile carriers for accomplishing assigned missions and the reliability of the strategic nuclear and conventional forces’ weapons.“

Ebenfalls für den Samstag – die seit Tagen angekündigt – soll in Belarus eine gemeinsame Übung von russischen und belarussischen Truppen stattfinden. Zu diesem Ereignis sind auch ausländische Beobachter wie die Militärattachés der Botschaften in Minsk eingeladen; nach Angaben des Auswärtigen Amtes auch der deutsche Attaché.

• Seit dem frühen Freitagnachmittag werden über soziale Medien Aufrufe der so genannten Volksrepubliken im Donbass im Osten der Ukraine verbreitet, in denen zur Ausreise nach Russland aufgefordert wird (zur leichteren Lesbarkeit ein englischsprachiges Beispiel):

und die Meldung von TASS dazu:

Head of the Lugansk People’s Republic Leonid Pasechnik called on residents of the republic to leave for Russia’s territory at the earliest opportunity.
„I call on residents of the republic, who do not have mobilization notices, as well as those who are not involved in the life-support social and civil infrastructure to leave for the territory of the Russian Federation in the short term in order to prevent civilian casualties,“ Pasechnik said.

Unklar bleibt, inwieweit diese Evakuierung mit den russischen Behörden abgestimmt ist; nach Meldungen russischer Medien soll die Verwaltung der angrenzenden Bezirke auf russischer Seite darüber nicht informiert gewesen sein.

• Erneut gibt es Meldungen über Artillerieangriffe im Donbass, die vor allem von den Separatisten gemeldet werden; wiederum TASS:

The reports of a sharp increase in shelling in Donbass using armaments banned by the Minsk Accords cause alarm in Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a press conference following talks with his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias on Friday.

• Als vorerst jüngste Meldung am frühen Freitagabend: in Donezk in der Ostukraine soll es eine Explosion gegeben haben. In der Nähe des Regierungsgebäudes sei ein Fahrzeug explodiert, berichtete unter anderem die russische Agentur RIA.

• Deutschland hat, wie etliche andere Länder in der NATO, die Bereitschaft seiner in die NATO Response Force (NRF) eingemeldeten Soldatinnen und Soldaten erhöht.

• Die Angaben beider Seiten sind nicht überprüfbar. Aber diese Warnung der ukrainischen Behörden fällt selbst in den zahlreichen widersprüchlichen Meldungen auf:

• In einer TV-Ansprache am Freitagabend sagte US-Präsident Joe Biden, er gehe davon aus, dass der russische Präsident Wladimir Putin die Entscheidung zu einem Einmarsch in der Ukraine getroffen habe und auch die ukrainische Hauptstadt Kiew das Ziel sei.

Das Video seines Statements (und einiger Fragen danach):

Nachtrag: Die Aussagen von Biden im Transkript des Weißen Hauses:

THE PRESIDENT: 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 to bring them up to date on what the United States thinks is the current state of affairs, and what’s likely to happen in Ukraine in the coming days, to ensure that we continue to remain in lockstep — that is the European Union and NATO.

Despite Russia’s efforts to divide us at home and abroad, I can affirm that has not happened. The overwhelming message of both — on both calls was one of unity, determination, and resolve. I shared with all of 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 ceasefire by Russian-backed fighters attempting to provoke Ukraine in the Donbas. For example, a shelling of a 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 by — to the Russian public, including the Russian-backed separatists, claiming that Ukraine is planning to launch a massive offensive attack in the Donbas.

Well, look, there is simply no evidence of these assertions, and it and devies [sic] — 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 also continues 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. That’s just what I’m sure Ukraine is thinking of doing — attacking Russia.

All these are consistent with the playbook the Russians have used before: to set up a false justification to act against Ukraine. This is also in line with the pretext scenarios that 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, restraint. They’ve refused to allow the Russians to bait them into war.

But the fact remains: Russian troops currently have Ukraine surrounded — from Belarus, along the Russian border with Ukraine, to the Black Sea in the south — and all of its border.

You know, look, we have reason to believe the Russian forces are planning to and intend to attack Ukraine in the coming week — in 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 any reason that Russia may give to justify invading Ukraine and prevent them from moving.

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 defend every inch of NATO territory from any threat to our collective security as well.

We also will not send troops in to fight in Ukraine, but we 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.

And we also previously provided $500 million in Ukrai- — in humanitarian aid and economic support for Ukraine. And earlier this week, we also announced an additional sovereign loan guarantee of up to $1 billion to strengthen Ukraine’s economic resilience.

But 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.

But I say again: Russia can still choose diplomacy. It is not too late to de-escalate and return to the negotiating table.

Last night, Russia agreed that Secretary of State Blinken and Foreign Minister Lavrov should meet on Feb- — on 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 — they will have chosen war, and they will pay a steep price for doing so — not only from the sanctions that we and our allies will impose on Russia, but the moral outrage that the rest of the world will visit upon them.

You know, there are many issues that divide our nation and our world, but standing up to Russian aggression is not one of them. The American people are united. Europe is united. The transatlantic community is united. Our political parties in this country are united. The entire free world is united.

Russia has a choice between war and all the suffering it will bring or diplomacy that will make a future safer for everyone.

Now I’m happy to take a few questions. Nancy from Bloomberg.

Q Thank you so much, sir. Do you think that it is wise for President Zelenskyy to leave Ukraine if an invasion is as imminent as the U.S. says it is?

THE PRESIDENT: That’s a judgment for him to make and a determination as to whether or not.

I’ve spoken with Zelenskyy a dozen times — maybe more, I don’t know. And — and it’s — and in the pursuit of a diplomatic solution, it may not be fal- — it may be the wise choice. But it’s his decision.

Q And do you have any indication about whether President Putin has made a decision on whether to invade? Do you feel confident that he — that he hasn’t made that decision already?

THE PRESIDENT: As of this moment, I’m convinced he’s made the decision. We have reason to believe that.

Q There seems to be a unanimity, a spirit to do — between the United States and Europe to do some sanctions — comprehensive sanctions. But are — is everyone on board with the exact same sanctions that you want to do?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. There will be some slight differences, but none — there will be more add-ons than subtractions.

Q And President Putin is going to oversee some nuclear drills this weekend. How do you see that happening? What’s your reaction to that, sir? Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I don’t think he is remotely contemplating nuclear — using nuclear weapons. But I do think it’s — I think he is focused on trying to convince the world that he has the ability to change the dynamics in Europe in a way that he cannot.

But I don’t — how much of it is a cover for just saying, “We’re just doing exercises” and there’s more than that, I just can’t — it’s hard to read his mind.


Q To be clear — to be clear, you are convinced —

THE PRESIDENT: I’ll — I’ll take some.

Q — you are convinced — you are convinced that President Putin is going to invade Ukraine? Is that what you just said a few moments ago?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I did. Yes.

Q So, is diplomacy off the table then?

THE PRESIDENT: No. There’s always — until he does, diplomacy is always a possibility.

Q What reason do you have to believe he is considering that option at all?

THE PRESIDENT: We have a significant intelligence capability. Thank you very much.