Biden aide says US 'ready either way' in Ukraine standoff

Biden aide says US ‘ready either way’ in Ukraine standoff

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WASHINGTON: The United States will lay out plans for its “next steps” in a tense standoff with Russia in the coming days, a senior official said on Sunday, after intense diplomacy failed to defuse the threat of a new conflict in Ukraine.

Amid mounting fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, national security advisor Jake Sullivan said the US was “ready either way.”

“We re in close touch with our allies and partners, including the Ukrainians,” the top advisor to President Joe Biden told CBS. “We re coordinating closely on next steps. And we ll have more to share in terms of the next steps into the diplomacy early next week.”

“But the key point here is that we re ready either way. If Russia wants to move forward with diplomacy, we are absolutely ready to do that in lockstep with our allies and partners.

“If Russia wants to go down the path of invasion and escalation, we re ready for that too, with a robust response.”

Washington said Russia had amassed nearly 100,000 troops on its border with Ukraine and accused Moscow of creating “pretexts” for a possible attack.

The Kremlin again insisted on Sunday that it does not want to lead a “military operation” even if NATO rejects Moscow’s demands to reduce its military presence in Eastern Europe, it will take an unnamed “counter-action”.

Meantime, officials in Kiev said Sunday they had proof that Moscow was involved in what they called a “massive cyberattack on government websites” in Ukraine.

The Kremlin has denied any involvement.

But Sullivan expressed US skepticism, saying, “We ve been warning for weeks and months both publicly and privately that cyber attacks could be part of a broad-based Russian effort to escalate in Ukraine.”

He added that the US was working with Ukraine to harden its cyber defenses, while also coordinating with US companies like Microsoft on ways to prevent future cyber attacks either in Ukraine or the US.

Sullivan added that US experts had yet to definitively confirm Russian responsibility for the cyber attack against Ukrainian targets, but added, “It would not surprise me one bit if it ends up being attributed to Russia.

He added: “If it turns out that Russia is targeting Ukraine with a cyberattack, and if this continues for some time to come, we will work with our allies to respond appropriately.”

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