Biden refutes CNN report about Ukraine call

by mcardinal

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News


Everyone agrees that U.S. President Joe Biden and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine spoke by phone on Thursday about Russia, but there is little agreement beyond that as to the substance and utility of that call.

Citing a conversation with an anonymous Ukrainian official, CNN’s Matthew Chance and Jeremy Herb reported that Biden told Zelenskyy during a “long and frank” call that an “imminent invasion” by Russia was a “distinct possibility.”

However, the Biden administration vigorously refuted the report and accused CNN of sharing misinformation. The point of contention was the use of the word “imminent.”

“Anonymous sources are ‘leaking’ falsehoods,” National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne told CNN. “President Biden said that there is a distinct possibility that the Russians could invade Ukraine in February. He has said this publicly and we have been warning about this for months. Reports of anything more or different than that are completely false.”

The curious clash between the White House and CNN, or at least CNN’s source, is truly a matter of semantics.

Imminent is a subjective term that means “about to happen,” a loose phrase that could mean one day to one person and one month or more to another. When President Biden was elected in November 2020, his ascendency to the White House became imminent, even though he had to wait about two months to be inaugurated.

Were a Russian invasion to occur in February, which starts in three days as of this writing, both Biden and CNN’s source would have both been definitionally correct.

But this strange blame game is not just a simple case of politicians bickering over adjectives. CNN analyst Stephen Collison argues Biden could cede ground, both rhetorical and physical, to Russian President Vladimir Putin even as the U.S. president is taking steps to apply added pressure to Russia while protecting his own image at home.

Collison writes that any fracture, “threatens to cause a clash between the wider interests of Biden and those of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is trying to maintain calm at home even as he tries to enlist international arms and support for his country’s defense.”

The official White House readout following the call was generally positive.

“President Biden reaffirmed the readiness of the United States along with its allies and partners to respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine,” the statement reads. “He also underscored the commitment of the United States to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

The White House added Biden assured Zelenskyy of the United States’ commitment to give massive economic support to Ukraine while still seeking diplomatic measures to end the monthslong, and ever intensifying standoff between Russia and Ukraine.

Biden also assured Zelenskyy that the U.S. embassy remained fully operational, even after family members of U.S. personnel were evacuated as a precaution.

Another sign emerged Friday morning that no schism exists between Ukraine and the U.S.

President Biden and European Union President Ursula von der Leyen released a joint statement reaffirming their commitment to protecting Ukraine’s energy interests.

“We [share] the objective of ensuring the energy security of Ukraine and the progressive integration of Ukraine with the EU gas and electricity markets,” the statement reads. The duo later added, “The United States and the EU are working jointly towards continued, sufficient, and timely supply of natural gas to the EU from diverse sources across the globe to avoid supply shocks, including those that could result from a further Russian invasion of Ukraine.”