‘Total unanimity’: Biden hails Zoom meeting with European leaders over Ukraine as he orders 8,500 US troops to prepare to deploy to Eastern Europe to fend off Russia and plans to send up to 50,000 soldiers to NATO allies

  • President Joe Biden said on Monday that he and European leaders had ‘total unanimity’ abou the situation in the Ukraine but didn’t offer more details 
  • ‘I had a very, very, very good meeting. Total unanimity with all the European leaders. We’ll talk about it later,’ Biden told reporters at the White House 
  • The Pentagon announced the 8,500 troops are US-based and stressed there was no plan to deploy them at this time, but that they would be ready in case the NATO Response Force was activated 
  • ‘It’s very clear the Russians have no intention right now of de-escalating,’ DoD spokesman John Kirby said
  • White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki warned that an alleged coup plot by Russia to overthrow Ukraine’s leadership would be a ‘severe escalation’ at her daily briefing on Monday 
  • A new report reveals Joe Biden is finalizing his plans to deploy U.S. forces to Eastern Europe 
  • Several U.S. officials told CNN the administration is in the final stages of identifying which military units to send to deter Russia and is preparing deployment orders  
  • The Ukraine Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson criticized the U.S. State Department’s decision to withdraw some embassy staff and families in a Monday morning Twitter post and called it ‘premature’ 
  • President Biden is considering deploying several thousand American troops together with warships and aircraft, to NATO ally countries located in the Baltics 
  • Both the United States and United Kingdom are set to withdraw some diplomats from their embassies in Kiev
  • The European Union has said it will not yet pull its diplomats from Kiev and warned against ‘dramatizing’ the situation as other Western governments begin to cautiously evacuate their citizens 
  • During a meeting at Camp David over the weekend, Pentagon officials outlined various options to Biden
  • Options would see American military might move a step closer to Russian border
  • Among strategies being considered, between 1,000 to 5,000 troops could be relocated to countries in Eastern Europe 
  • There would also be a potential to increase to 50,000 should the need arise
  • None of the military options would see the deployment of additional American troops to Ukraine 
  • Ukraine’s Defense Minister said Sunday night the government had received a second shipment of weapons from the United States 
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President Joe Biden said on Monday that he and European leaders had ‘total unanimity’ about the situation in the Ukraine – although he declined to provide more details on what they agreed upon.

‘I had a very, very, very good meeting. Total unanimity with all the European leaders. We’ll talk about it later,’ Biden told reporters at the White House during  a meeting with his Cabinet on inflation. He refused to talk further, complaining if he did the press wouldn’t ‘report on why I’ve called the meeting’ about inflation.

Leaders from the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, and the United Kingdom were also on the call, which lasted about 90 minutes. Biden spoke from the White House Situation Room. It was closed to press but the White House posted a photo from it to its social media accounts.

The group discussed ‘their joint efforts to deter further Russian aggression against Ukraine, including preparations to impose massive consequences and severe economic costs on Russia for such actions as well as to reinforce security on NATO’s eastern flank,’ the White House said in a readout on the virtual call.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the leaders agreed there would be ‘severe costs’ to Russia if Moscow invaded Ukraine.

‘We agree that any further aggression by #Russia against #Ukraine will have severe costs,’ he wrote on Twitter.

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A Downing Street spokeswoman said that ‘should a further Russian incursion into Ukraine happen, allies must enact swift retributive responses including an unprecedented package of sanctions’ and that the leaders ‘resolved to continue co-ordinating closely on any such response.’

She added: ‘The leaders agreed on the importance of international unity in the face of growing Russian hostility. The Prime Minister underlined the real human cost of any Russian aggression and the need to take all steps within our power to prevent that outcome.

‘The leaders stressed that diplomatic discussions with Russia remain the first priority, and welcomed talks that have already taken place between Russia and Nato allies.

‘They also agreed that the international community should not tolerate any action which undermines Ukrainian sovereignty. The Prime Minister outlined the steps the UK has taken to increase Ukraine’s defensive capacity. He emphasised the need to support Ukraine’s defences against the full spectrum of malign Russian activity.’

French President Emmanuel Macron will be speaking with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky in the coming days, the French said.

‘President Macron expressed his deep concern over the situation on the Ukrainian border and the need to work collectively to de-escalate it quickly. This de-escalation must involve strong, credible warnings to Russia, requiring constant coordination among European partners and allies, as well as a stepped-up dialogue with Russia, which we are in the process of conducting,’ said the read out of the call from Elysee Palace.

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