White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Sunday evening that Democrat President Joe Biden has “accepted in principle” a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in an effort to stop a war from breaking out in Europe.
“As the President has repeatedly made clear, we are committed to pursuing diplomacy until the moment an invasion begins,” Psaki said. “Secretary Blinken and Foreign Minister Lavrov are scheduled to meet later this week in Europe, provided Russia does not proceed with military action. President Biden accepted in principle a meeting with President Putin following that engagement, again, if an invasion hasn’t happened.”
“We are always ready for diplomacy,” she continued. “We are also ready to impose swift and severe consequences should Russia instead choose war. And currently, Russia appears to be continuing preparations for a full-scale assault on Ukraine very soon.”
The news come as Putin has amassed approximately 190,000 troops near the Ukraine border, effectively surrounding the country. A U.S. official told reporters on Friday that 40-50% of the up to 190,000 Russian soldiers near Ukraine’s borders are now “in an attack position.”
Russian military forces have reportedly received orders from Putin to invade Ukraine, according to a new report on alleged U.S. intelligence.
Biden met with Putin last June and ignited a media firestorm with what he says he told Putin about cyberattacks on U.S. critical infrastructure.
“Another area we spent a great deal of time on was cyber and cybersecurity,” Biden said. “I talked about the proposition that certain critical infrastructure should be off limits to attack — period — by cyber or any other means. I gave them a list, if I’m not mistaken — I don’t have it in front of me — 16 specific entities; 16 defined as critical infrastructure under U.S. policy, from the energy sector to our water systems.”
Rebeccah Heinrichs, Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, wrote: “This is essentially inviting Putin to attack literally everything else.”
“I’m very confused about this. 16 entities that are ‘off-limits’ for attack, as opposed to others that aren’t?” Atlantic Council Director Benjamin Haddad wrote. “What does this mean?”
Biden’s former White House stenographer, Mike McCormick, recounted in a series of interviews in 2020 how then-Vice President Biden was allegedly dominated by then-Russian Prime Minister Putin during a 2011 meeting in Moscow.
“I was standing in the room with him when he met with Vladimir Putin and Vladimir Putin body slammed him. He made him look like he didn’t know what he was doing,” McCormick told Fox News radio late last year. “It was the first one-on-one meeting Joe Biden had with Vladimir Putin. It was during the Russian reset. It was in 2011.”
“And all of a sudden, Vladimir Putin just turned off the lights and that was it,” McCormick continued. “Joe Biden couldn’t say another word. They cut off his mike. They turned off the lights for the press, for the television cameras, and Joe Biden was dumbfounded.”
McCormick said that he witnessed Biden “getting bullied by authoritarian leaders,” including when “almost the same thing happened several months later in China” and several years later “in Turkey.”
This report has been updated to include additional information.
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