Sleepy Joe’ s EMERGENCY press conference

Sleepy Joe’ s EMERGENCY press conference

With the exception of the Zero Hedge article everything here has been taken from Russian media.

Biden Says He’s ‘Convinced’ Putin Has ‘Made the Decision to Invade Ukraine’ in Coming Days

The self-declared people’s republics of Lugansk and Donetsk announced on Friday plans to evacuate more than 700,000 civilians to western Russia amid a significant increase in bombardment of the area by Ukrainian forces.
US President Joe Biden said on Friday that he was “convinced” Russian President Vladimir Putin had made the decision to launch an invasion of Ukraine “in the coming days.”
“As of this moment I’m convinced he’s made the decision,” Biden told reporters at the White House. He confirmed his position when a reporter asked him to do so. He said the attack will focus on the capital of Kiev.
When asked by reporters how his administration has such firm information after having waffled on making such a firm determination for months, Biden said “we have a significant intelligence capability” and abruptly ended the press conference.
His comment mirrors a dispute between US State Department spokesperson Ned Price and reporters earlier this month, who demanded evidence of the administration’s claims the Russians were planning a “false flag” incident that would serve as a casus belli for invading Ukraine.
Biden renewed that accusation as well on Friday, claiming that information coming out of the Donbass about a significant increase in artillery and mortar shelling by Ukrainian forces, as well as other explosions of an unknown origin, were just the kind of staged Russian provocations his administration had been “warning about for weeks.”
“All these are consistent with the playbook the Russians have used before,” Biden declared.
He said that a Ukrainian offensive against the Donbass republics now “defies basic logic” and that Ukrainian forces had shown “restraint” by refusing to be “baited” by Russian forces. He did not elaborate as to what incidents amounted to baiting.
However, Biden said he did not believe the pre-scheduled nuclear drills being observed by Putin this weekend are an indicator the Russian president intends to use nuclear weapons in the allegedly forthcoming invasion.
“How much of it is a cover for saying ‘we’re just doing exercises … it’s hard to read his mind,” Biden said.
MORE INFORMATION TO FOLLOW…

East Ukraine headed for ‘full-scale war’ – separatist leader

The situation in Donbass is “critical” and Kiev can start an offensive at any moment, the head of the Donetsk region says
East Ukraine headed for 'full-scale war' – separatist leader

Full-scale war in eastern Ukraine can break out at any moment, with an attack by forces loyal to the government in Kiev, the head of the breakaway, unrecognised ‘Donetsk People’s Republic,’  Denis Pushilin, told Russian media on Friday evening.

“Kiev can start a full-scale assault on Donbass at any moment, the situation is critical,” Pushilin told Russian television, referring to the two self-proclaimed republics in eastern Ukraine.  

Asked by the host if there will be a war, Pushilin responded: “Yes. Unfortunately, yes.”

His comments came about an hour after an explosion outside the Donetsk government building, which turned out to be a car bomb targeting regional police chief Denis Sinenkov. He was not injured in the blast. There were no reports of casualties, only material damage.

Pushilin called the bombing a “sabotage” in preparation for an assault by Kiev. Every critical infrastructure building in Donetsk is under guard and prepared for potential terrorist attack, he added. Ukraine has been denying any plans for attacking the breakaway regions.

Meanwhile, the authorities in Donetsk and neighboring Lugansk have announced an evacuation of civilians into Russia. Pushilin said that “hundreds of thousands” of people – mainly women, children, and the elderly – may end up getting evacuated, while men 55 and younger will be asked to stay.

The US and NATO have claimed over the past three months that Russia is preparing to “invade” Ukraine, to the point where the Kiev government asked them to tone down the rhetoric as it was spreading undue panic and hurting the country’s economy. Moscow has rejected the allegations as “fake news.”

The People’s Militia of the DPR, together with the coordinator of humanitarian projects Tatyana Butrina, delivered humanitarian aid to the municipal preschool educational institution “Nursery-garden No. 94” in the city of Makeyevka. In addition, the military of the commandant’s office of the People’s Militia of the DPR brought sweet gifts to the orphanage. The children were sincerely happy and thanked for the attention and care of their defenders, looking forward to the next visit.
Also, by the forces of the servicemen of the NM DNR and the humanitarian foundation “Geography of the Heart”, a medical cargo was delivered to the regional cancer center: consumables for ventilators and a number of necessary medical supplies.With this information, a number of opposition politicians have already left the country.

The only one who can stop this inevitable bloodshed is Vladimir Putin and his allies. There are intense negotiations going on right now.

Once again, I ask you to take this information very seriously

Breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk republics order evacuation

Civilians must flee from the rebel-held Ukrainian regions to Russia, their heads say
Breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk republics order evacuation

The leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics told civilians on Friday to evacuate to Russia to avoid getting caught in the crossfire in case Ukraine starts an attack.

Donetsk People’s Republic head Denis Pushilin said in a statement that he expects military aggression by Ukrainian forces. The country’s troops have been bolstered with arms supplies from Western nations and “are now prepositioned for combat and ready to take Donbass by force,” Pushilin claimed in a statement, referring to his region and fellow breakaway entity, the Lugansk People’s Republic, by their collective name.

The Ukrainian rebels are expecting President Volodymyr Zelensky to order an offensive “in the nearest future.” Their military forces are prepared to fight, but civilians in rebel-controlled areas are at risk of being caught in the crossfire, the head of the Donetsk People’s Republic warned.

“That is why starting today, February 18, a mass evacuation of people to the Russian Federation has been organized,” he said, adding that vulnerable groups like women, children, and the elderly would be given priority.

The head of the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR), Leonid Pasechnik, also called on people to evacuate from the region.

Pushilin said Russian officials in the neighboring Rostov Region are expecting an inflow of evacuees and will provide them with what they need. There will be conditions at border crossings to expedite the process, he added. He urged people “to heed to the warning and take the right decision,” saying that the relocation would be temporary and would save lives.

The statement was released after OSCE observers deployed to eastern Ukraine to monitor the situation along the line dividing government-controlled parts of the country and territories held by the rebel forces reported a surge in hostilities this week.

Western nations have been claiming for months that Russia was preparing a military invasion of Ukraine. US officials stated that Moscow was preparing a “false flag” operation to justify an attack.

Moscow rejected the accusations. The only way hostilities could break out, Russian officials said, is if Ukraine attempts once again to use military force to take over its breakaway regions. Moscow accuses Kiev of failing to abide by a follow-up roadmap for the reintegration of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions – the Minsk agreements – which Ukraine and the leaders of the two self-proclaimed republics signed in 2014 and 2015, after significant hostilities broke out in the region.

From the People’s Militia of DPR, via Telegram

Please pay attention, this is very important information!

As I was informed from Kiev, Zelensky will really start a military operation in the Donbas in the very near future. Ukraine wants to implement the “Croatian” scenario, using an instant military strike to take control of the DPR and LPR borders with Russia, followed by the cleansing of the population disloyal to the current authorities. Plans have been drawn up, tasks have been set. Equipment and personnel are ready. The operation scenario is fully approved by the West. Why, I have already explained earlier.

Simultaneously with the beginning of the military operation, the SBU, together with local Nazis, will begin to physically destroy the “pro-Russian element”. Moreover, it is not only about opposition politicians. They plan to destroy bloggers, journalists, and opinion leaders. Lists with addresses and surnames have already been compiled. Special teams are ready to sweep. Dissenters will be killed in Kiev, Odessa, Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk and other cities of the south-east of Ukraine.

RIO Katyusha, via Telegram

Powerful Gas Pipeline Explosion Rocks Eastern Ukraine

(Update 4:48pm ET): In the overnight hours local time a massive gas pipeline explosion is being reported, with a fire raging at the site. Early unconfirmed reports suggest the powerful explosion rocked a part of the pipeline in the pro-Russian separatist region, in or near the city of Luhansk.

Interfax is also confirming a “pipeline fire in Eastern Ukraine after a powerful explosion”… Dramatic videos were quick to emerge showing a bright fireball on the horizon.

“An explosion has rocked the city of Lugansk in eastern Ukraine late on Friday, Sputnik news agency’s correspondent has reported,” according to Russian media.

And reports of a second explosion have come across the news wires:

RUSSIA’S INTERFAX NEWS AGENCY REPORTS SECOND EXPLOSION IN LUHANSK IN EAST UKRAINE

“Local media have also confirmed that a pipeline in the area has been affected, resulting in a major fire. Emergency services are on the scene,” the report said.

Hawkish Republican Senator Marco Rubio was quick to immediately point the finger at Russia for sabotage, suggesting that that Washington might have its ‘false flag’ moment to pin on Moscow

* * *

(Update 12:30 ET): Russia’s RIA is now reporting that the head of the Russian-backed Donetsk People’s Republic, when asked whether things are moving towards war, said “unfortunately, yes.”

Meanwhile, Donetsk Republic separatists say they plan to evacuate approximately 700,000 people to Russia.

*  *  *

(Update 11:05ET): Futures have taken the elevator to session lows after Russia’s RIA reports a large explosion occurred near the separatists’ government building in the center of Donetsk.

Here are photos of the explosion that occurred after dark local time in Donetsk…

… and which has been attributed to a car bomb assassination attempt.

The news slammed US equity markets to session lows…

… hammered the ruble, which is now down 1.6% against the dollar…

… and pushed safe havens such as Treasuries and gold higher.

* * *

Update (0950ET): Now the second Donbas republic has announced it has initiated the evacuation of civilians as there are reports that intense fighting has broken out at various spots along the line of contact.

“The leader of the second self-declared republic in eastern Ukraine has announced that the evacuation of civilians to Russia is being organized,” CNN reports after pro-Russian separatist leaders in Donetsk hours ago announced the same.

Some of the first footage to have emerged of the evacuations in progress…

Leonid Pasechnik of Luhansk People’s Republic, said in a statement the evacuations began “due to the escalation of tension on the contact line, instructed the heads of the territories of the Republic to ensure the organized evacuation of the population… and help the population in the delivery to border checkpoints.”

He added “the Russian Federation is ready to provide organized reception and accommodation on its territory of residents of the Luhansk People’s Republic.”

Update (0845ET): During a press conference in Moscow with Belarus leader Lukashenko, Putin appeared to offer (perhaps) a slightly less rancorous tone…

  • *PUTIN: RUSSIA ISN’T AGAINST TALKS ON U.S. SECURITY PRPOPOSALS
  • *PUTIN: KYIV JUST NEEDS TO DISCUSS CONFLICT WITH SEPARATISTS
  • *PUTIN: BELARUS DRILLS ARE DEFENSIVE, DON’T THREATEN ANYONE

Meanwhile the narratives continue to duel: 

  • U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE BLINKEN SAYS WE ARE SEEING SCENARIOS OF RUSSIA CREATING FALSE PROVOCATIONS IN UKRAINE
  • PUTIN SAYS WE ARE SEEING RISING TENSION IN DONBASS, NEED TO IMPLEMENT MINSK PEACE AGREEMENTS

Additionally Putin says:

“Right now we are seeing a deterioration of the situation” in eastern Ukraine.

While blame-scaping is obvious in the narratives, they both agree that ‘tensions are rising’.

*  *  *

As we detailed earlier, citing the risk of ‘conflict escalation’, separatists in Donbas (Eastern Ukraine) have announced the evacuation of women, children, and the elderly at the contact line to Russia, according to Interfax.

The leader of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, Denis Pushilin saysclaims to have agreement with government of Russian Rostov region to host people.

Full letter (emphasis ours):

Dear residents of the Donetsk People’s Republic! Countrymen!

In recent months, we have been observing a daily increase in the number of military personnel and lethal weapons by Ukraine, including Smerch and Uragan multiple launch rocket systems, NLAW rocket launchers, as well as Javelins and Stingers along the entire line of contact.

Today their guns are aimed at civilians, at us and our children.

The armed forces of the enemy are in combat formations and are ready for the forceful capture of Donbass.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky will soon give an order to the military to go on the offensive, to implement a plan to invade the territory of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.

I appeal to all the inhabitants of our state.

The armed forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic, having experience in conducting military operations, are in constant combat readiness, fully capable of protecting the civilian population and infrastructure.

Nevertheless, when the enemy shells the settlements of the Republic, the life and health of our citizens may be endangered.

Therefore, from today, February 18, a mass centralized departure of the population to the Russian Federation has been organized.

First of all, women, children and the elderly are subject to evacuation.

We kindly ask you to listen and make the right decision. Temporary departure will save the life and health of you and your loved ones.

By agreement with the leadership of the Russian Federation, places for the reception and accommodation of our citizens are ready in the Rostov Region. The evacuees will be provided with everything necessary. All conditions have been created for a quick transition at checkpoints.

The heads of enterprises and institutions need to organize the departure of the families of employees. Headquarters of territorial defense – to provide transport for the evacuation of civilians.

Dear fellow countrymen, I ask you to remain calm and calm. Together we will stand and win!

Denis Pushilin,
Head of the Donetsk People’s Republic

It appears the evacuation is under way…

Sirens are reportedly sounding in Donetsk…

*  *  *

That headline triggered the algos into sell-mode and erased all of the Blinken-Lavrov spike gains…

US Treasury yields are sliding, along with the Ruble but oil is unimpressed.

Gold is spiking back above $1900…

Ahead of a long weekend, we suspect few will be willing to roll the dice long with both sides appearing to be escalating the words and actions.

Kiev prepares for evacuation

Senior official in the Ukrainian capital says it will be evacuated if Russia invades
Kiev prepares for evacuation

 

Kiev will be completely evacuated if Russian troops storm over the border and attempt to invade Ukraine, a senior city official revealed on Thursday.

Speaking to radio station Hromadske, Kiev’s municipal security director, Roman Tkachuk, stated that the city’s three million residents would be taken out of the capital in the event of war. However, the official did not specify where they would be evacuated to, or how.

“In the event of hostilities, an evacuation will be carried out, and only critical infrastructure workers and the Armed Forces of Ukraine will remain in the city,” Tkachuk said. However, those who choose to stay will not be forced out, he assured.

The announcement comes amid rising tensions over the conflict on the border between Russia and Ukraine. Moscow stands accused of stationing over 100,000 Russian troops on the frontier, and Washington has accused the Kremlin of planning an invasion.

The crisis in Ukraine began in 2014, following the events of the Maidan, when violent street protests toppled the democratically elected government in Kiev. Shortly after, two regions in the east of the country declared themselves to be independent states, named the Donetsk (DPR) and Lugansk (LPR) People’s Republics. Moscow has repeatedly refused to recognize the breakaway states as sovereign, instead calling for them to be integrated into Ukraine with a special status.

On Friday, the heads of the DPR and LPR recommended that citizens begin evacuating to Russia, accusing Kiev of planning an attack. Ukraine has completely denied any intent to invade, with Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba calling it Russian “disinformation.”

“We are fully committed to diplomatic conflict resolution only,” he said.

Russia Responds To US Conspiracy Theories As Questionable ‘Chemical Attack’ Video Already Emerges

Authored by Dave DeCamp via AntiWar.com,

In response to US and NATO claims that Russia isn’t withdrawing troops from areas near Ukraine, the Kremlin said Thursday that troop pullbacks take time and dismissed the Western skepticism as “unfounded accusations.”

“It’s clear the grouping for the exercises was built up over many weeks, and it is of course impossible to withdraw it in a single day. They can’t just take off and fly away … it takes time,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. “As always unfounded accusations.”

Via Reuters

Russia announced Tuesday that some troops in Crimea were returning to their permanent bases. On Wednesday, the Russian Defense Ministry released a video that it said showed military equipment crossing the Crimean bridge from Crimea into Russia as part of the pullback, but the US dismissed it as “propaganda.”

Russian officials have said that troops currently in Belarus will return to Russia after drills conclude on February 20th. Peskov said again on Thursday that there are no plans to extend the deployment in Belarus.

The US continues to accuse Russia of plotting an invasion of Ukraine. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin claimed Thursday that despite Moscow’s announced pullback, Russia was still amassing forces near Ukraine.

And according to the latest by CNN, the US is basing it’s alarmist predictions on a “bleak” intelligence assessment:

The assessment — described as “bleak” by the senior official — indicates Russia could attack in the coming days. The US still expects any Russian invasion to be prefaced by a false flag operation, another US official said

“However, US officials caution they do not know if Putin has made a final decision to invade and note he may delay action or not order it at all,” CNN notes. And importantly, “Earlier assessments forecasting military action by Russia this week did not bear out.”

* * *

With the US now telegraphing its bizarre Russian false flag ‘chemical attack’ scenario, this seems an open invitation for anyone on either side to circulate any wild claim or videos, or whatever provocation they want which they can use toward their ends, such as the following highly dubious example

Belarus Threatens To Deploy Nukes Against Any Western Aggression

For the first time throughout the current two-month long standoff between NATO and Russia over Ukraine, the specter of nuclear war has been directly raised, with Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko on Thursday warning that his country stands ready to deploy nuclear weapons if under threat.

Citing external threats coming from the West, and at a moment Belarus is hosting many thousands of Russian troops, as well as S-400 missiles and long-range bombers for ongoing joint military drills expected to go to Feb. 20, Lukashenko warned, “If necessary, if such stupid and mindless steps are taken by our rivals and opponents, we will deploy not only nuclear weapons, but super-nuclear and up-and-coming ones to protect our territory,” according to AFP.

Belarussian strongman Alexander Lukashenko, via The Independent

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