News broke yesterday of the possibility that Russia would invade Ukraine sometime this week. This has triggered a flurry of activity in the diplomatic sphere and precipitated an order from the U.S. government to evacuate the embassy in Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden are speaking by phone this morning in what may perhaps be a last-ditch effort to dissuade Putin from carrying out some kind of military incursion in Ukraine. Russia currently has 120,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders and has been rattling its saber by carrying out military exercises in Belarus next door and conducting naval exercises in the Black Sea.

Of course, all of this might be an elaborate feint by Putin. He doesn’t need to invade to force NATO to give up its independence in choosing who can join the alliance. Putin now has veto power over any expansion of NATO.

New York Times:

U.S. intelligence officials had thought Mr. Putin was prepared to wait until the end of the Winter Olympics in Beijing before possibly ordering an offensive, to avoid antagonizing President Xi Jinping of China, a critical ally. In recent days, they say, the timeline began moving up, an acceleration that Biden administration officials began publicly acknowledging on Friday.

“We continue to see signs of Russian escalation, including new forces arriving at the Ukrainian border,” Jake Sullivan, the president’s national security adviser, told reporters, adding that an invasion could begin “during the Olympics,” which are scheduled to end on Feb. 20.

U.S. intelligence claims that Russia will go in on Wednesday, Feb. 16, although they admit that might be part of the massive misinformation campaign currently underway by Moscow.

At this point, Putin would only accept a diplomatic settlement that gave him everything he wanted, including withdrawing NATO assets from the Baltic countries and Poland and giving the Russian president “ironclad” guarantees about Ukraine not joining NATO. This would allow Russia to interfere all it wants in Ukraine, including installing a more Russia-friendly government.

Related: Is Biden Inviting the Very War in Ukraine We Don’t Want to Fight?

But are all these war warnings from Biden in the best interest of Ukraine?

The Ukrainian government urged calm, with President Volodymyr Zelensky saying that “too much information” about a possible Russian offensive was sowing unnecessary fear.

“We understand that these risks exist,” Mr. Zelensky told reporters. “If you or any person has additional information regarding a 100-percent-certain invasion, beginning on the 16th, by the Russian Federation into Ukraine, please give us this information.”

Biden was caught flat-footed and unprepared when the Afghan government collapsed, even though he made it possible by withdrawing U.S. military assets precipitously. Now, he wants the voters to know he’s on top of the situation. Even if he’s scaring the hell out of Ukraine’s people and government, he simply can’t afford another debacle like Afghanistan.

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