Speed Reads

the gathering storm

Biden weighs sanctions, military aid as Russian invasion of Ukraine looms

President Biden is developing a plan to counter an increasingly likely Russian invasion of Ukraine, he said Friday. The president did not provide details, but experts predict his response could include increased economic sanctions against Russia as well as military aid to Ukraine.

Around 94,000 Russian troops have massed on the Ukrainian border. Newly released U.S. intelligence documents obtained by The Washington Post suggest that the invasion could come as early as January 2022 and involve 175,000 troops. Russian President Vladimir Putin has demanded signed assurances that NATO will not admit Ukraine as a member. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that the U.S. will not provide any such guarantee.

During a Friday press conference, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told Reuters the U.S. is determined to "stand up resolutely against any reckless or aggressive actions that Russia may pursue and also to defend the territorial integrity, the sovereignty, the independence of Ukraine."

A recruitment ad that appears to have been recently released by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense has been widely shared on Anglophone Twitter since Friday. The subtitled video shows a series of soldiers in combat zones turning to the camera and, in voices full of restrained emotion, sharing some aspect of their lives outside the military: "I am a bus driver." "I am going to marry soon." "I am a fan of Shakhtar [Football Club]." The ad ends with a narrator saying, "None of us was born for war. But we are all here to protect our freedom." 

Luke Coffey, director of the conservative Heritage Foundation's Foreign Policy Center, posted the video with the caption "Powerful stuff. God bless Ukraine!"