The Thursday call between President Joe Biden and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky to discuss a potential military conflict with Russia did not go as well as the Biden administration would have hoped.
According to leakers close to the story, and reported by CNN, the call, which lasted an hour and 20 minutes, and described as “candid” by the two leaders, saw Biden and Zelensky butting heads on the threat posed by Russia.
CNN reported that Biden insisted a Russian invasion was now virtually certain once the ground freezes. Biden stated that Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine would be “sacked,” and that Russian forces would attempt to occupy it.
Biden reportedly told Zelensky to “prepare for impact.”
Details of the call were run on Jake Tapper’s “The Lead” and posted by Jack Posobiec after the official CNN account on Twitter deleted the segment after sharing it.
The White House’s National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne denied the remarks.
“This is not true,” Horne rebutted. “President Biden said that there is a distinct possibility that the Russians could invade Ukraine in February. He has previously said this publicly & we have been warning about this for months. Reports of anything more or different than that are completely false.”
“Anonymous sources are 'leaking falsehoods,'” CNN reported that it was informed by a White House spokesperson.
Ukrainian officials also denied the leak, calling the CNN report “completely false.”
“President of #Ukraine’s spokesperson stated that some reports regarding today’s conversation of President Zelensky and President Biden are completely false. He also encouraged to carefully treat all information in this troubled time especially from the unconfirmed sources,” the Ukrainian Embassy tweeted.
Despite the denials from both the Biden administration and the Ukrainian government, neither party has released the full transcript of the conversation between Biden and Zelensky.
The White House released a read-out of the phone call which only provides an overview of what was said and not his actual comments.
President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. spoke today with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine. President Biden reaffirmed the readiness of the United States along with its allies and partners to respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine.
He also underscored the commitment of the United States to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. President Biden noted the United States has provided Ukraine with over half a billion dollars in development and humanitarian assistance in the last year and is exploring additional macroeconomic support to help Ukraine’s economy amidst pressure resulting from Russia’s military build-up.
President Biden made clear that despite the departure of American family members of embassy personnel, the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, remains open and fully operational.
The leaders discussed coordinated diplomatic efforts on European security, underscoring the principle of “nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine.”
President Biden relayed the United States’ support for conflict resolution efforts in the Normandy Format, expressing his hope that the sides’ recommitment on January 26 to the terms of the July 2020 ceasefire will help decrease tensions and advance the implementation of the Minsk Agreements.
Former president Donald Trump was impeached in 2019 over a 30-minute telephone conversation with Zelensky. The White House released a transcript of the phone call to clear his name, following widespread calls for him to do so — including from Joe Biden.
“Someone told Biden that Russian tanks don't work in mud and he actually repeated it to the President of Ukraine,” reported Posobiec on Friday, making the alleged “frozen ground” remarks by President Biden be plausible.