WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden said he believes Vladimir Putin doesn’t want full blown war in Ukraine and would pay a “dear price” if he moves forward with a military incursion.
Biden, speaking at a news conference to mark his one-year anniversary in office, also said he believes that Russia is preparing to take action on Ukraine, though he doesn’t think the Russian president has made a final decision. He suggested that he would limit Russia’s access to the international banking system if it did further invade Ukraine.
“I’m not so sure that he is certain what is he going to do,” Biden said. He added, “My guess is he will move in.”
Biden’s comments came hours after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a visit to Kyiv accused Russia of planning to reinforce the more than 100,000 troops it has deployed along the Ukrainian border and suggested that number could double “on relatively short order.” Blinken did not elaborate, but Russia has sent an unspecified number of troops from the country’s far east to its ally Belarus, which also shares a border with Ukraine, for major war games next month.
The U.S. president said he believes the decision will “solely” be Putin’s and suggested he was not fully confident that Russian officials with whom top White House advisers have been negotiating are fully informed about Putin’s thinking.
“There’s a question of whether the people they’re talking to know what he’s going to do,” Biden said.
Biden also suggested a “minor incursion” would elicit a lesser response than a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, saying “it’s very important that we keep everyone in NATO on the same page.” Biden later in the news conference sought to clarify that he was referring to a non-military action, such as a cyberattack, that would be met with a similar reciprocal response.
Ukraine, meanwhile, said it was prepared for the worst and would survive whatever difficulties come its way. The president urged the country not to panic.
Blinken’s visit to the Ukrainian capital came two days before he is to meet in Geneva with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. That follows a series of inconclusive talks last week that failed to ease rising tensions.
Russian military activity has been increasing in recent weeks, but the U.S. has not concluded whether Putin plans to invade or whether the show of force is intended to squeeze the security concessions without an actual conflict.
Biden, who spoke with Putin twice last month, said he’s made it clear to him that Russia would face severe sanctions. Still, he said the decision for Putin could come down to “what side of the bed” he wakes up on.
“He’s never seen sanctions like the ones I promised will be imposed if he moves, No. 1,” Biden warned. “This is not all just a cake walk for Russia,” Biden said. “They’ll pay a stiff price immediately” and in the medium and long term “if they do it.”
In Kyiv, Blinken reiterated Washington’s demands for Russia to de-escalate the situation by removing its forces from the border area, something that Moscow has flatly refused to do. And, Blinken said he wouldn’t give Russia the written response it expects to its demands when he and Lavrov meet in Geneva.
Meanwhile, a top Russian diplomat said Moscow would not back down from its insistence that the U.S. formally ban Ukraine from ever joining NATO and reduce its and the alliance’s military presence in Eastern Europe. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Moscow had no intention of invading Ukraine but that its demands for security guarantees were non-negotiable.
The U.S. and its allies have said the Russian demands are non-starters, that Russia knows they are and that Putin is using them in part to create a pretext for invading Ukraine, which has strong ethnic and historical ties to Russia. The former Soviet republic aspires to join the alliance, though has little hope of doing so in the foreseeable future.
Blinken urged Western nations to remain united in the face of Russian aggression. He also reassured Ukraine’s leader of NATO support while calling for Ukrainians to stand strong.
Blinken told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that the U.S. and its allies were steadfast in backing his country and its democratic aspirations against Russian attempts to incite division and discord through “relentless aggression.”
“Our strength depends on preserving our unity and that includes unity within Ukraine,” he told Zelenskyy. “I think one of Moscow’s long-standing goals has been to try to sow divisions between and within our countries, and quite simply we cannot and will not let them do that.”
The Biden administration had said earlier it was providing an additional $200 million in defensive military aid to Ukraine. Blinken said more assistance is coming and that it would only increase should Russia invade.
Zelenskyy thanked Blinken for the aid, which was approved in late December but not confirmed until Wednesday.
“This (military) support not only speaks to our strategic plans of Ukraine joining the alliance, but more importantly to the level of our military, our military supplies,” he said, referring to Kyiv’s desire to join NATO.
“Your visit is very important,” Zelenskyy said. “It underlines once again your powerful support of our independence and sovereignty.”
Zelenskyy released a video address to the nation on Wednesday evening, urging Ukrainians not to panic over fears of a possible invasion. But he said the country has been living with the Russian threat for many years and should always be prepared for war. He called on all Ukrainians, especially the elderly, to “breathe” and “calm down.”
Ukraine’s president also gave assurances that the country was strengthening its defense capabilities and doing everything possible to resolve the crisis through diplomacy.
“Ukraine doesn’t want a war, but must always be prepared for it,” Zelenskyy said.
From Kyiv, Blinken plans a short trip to Berlin for talks with German and other European allies on Thursday before meeting with Lavrov.
On Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron called on the European Union to draw up a plan to ease tensions with Russia, “We should build it among Europeans, then share it with our allies in the framework of NATO, and then propose it for negotiation to Russia,” he said.
Washington and its allies have kept the door open to possible further talks on arms control and confidence-building measures to reduce the potential for hostilities.
Ryabkov insisted, however, that there can’t be any meaningful talks on those issues if the West doesn’t heed the main Russian requests for the non-expansion of NATO with a formal response. He said the Russian demands are “a package, and we’re not prepared to divide it into different parts, to start processing some of those at the expense of standing idle on others.”
Blinken, though, said no such formal response was coming. “I won’t be presenting a paper at that time to Foreign Minister Lavrov,” he said. “We need to see where we are and see if there remain opportunities to pursue the diplomacy and pursue the dialogue.”
The Biden administration and its allies have accused Putin of creating the crisis and say it is up to him and the Russians to decide whether to invade and suffer severe economic consequences.
Russia has brushed off calls to withdraw its troops by saying it has a right to deploy its forces wherever it likes on its own territory. It also has rejected U.S. allegations that it’s preparing a “false flag operation” to use as a pretext for intervention. Russia has angrily denied the charge.
Before Blinken’s visit to Kyiv, a delegation of U.S. senators traveled to Ukraine to emphasize congressional support for the country.
Russia in 2014 seized the Crimean Peninsula after the ouster of Ukraine’s Moscow-friendly leader and also threw its weight behind a separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine. More than 14,000 people have been killed in nearly eight years of fighting between the Russia-backed rebels and Ukrainian forces in the country’s industrial heartland, called Donbas.
Lee reported from Kyiv. Associated Press writers Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow and Yuras Karmanau in Kyiv contributed to this report.
Matthew Lee And Aamer Madhani, The Associated Press
Cyberattacks hit military, Parliament websites as India hacker group targets Canada
The federal government is coping with apparent cyber attacks this week, as a hacker group in India claims it has sowed chaos in Ottawa. Hands type on a keyboard in Vancouver on Wednesday, December, 19, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
By Dylan Robertson in Ottawa
The federal government is coping with apparent cyberattacks this week, as a hacker group in India claims it has sowed chaos in Ottawa.
The Canadian Armed Forces said that its website became unavailable to mobile users midday Wednesday, but was fixed within a few hours.
The military said the site is separate from other government sites, such as the one used by the Department of Defence and internal military networks. The incident remains under investigation.
“We have no indication of broader impacts to our systems,” said a statement from spokeswoman Andrée-Anne Poulin.
Meanwhile, various pages on the House of Commons website continued to load slowly or incompletely on Thursday due to an ongoing attack that officials say started Monday morning.
The Commons administration said it was facing a distributed denial-of-service attack, which is when bots swarm a website with multiple visits and cause it to stop loading properly.
“House of Commons systems responded as planned to protect our network and IT infrastructure. However, some websites may be unresponsive for a short period,” spokeswoman Amélie Crosson said in a written statement Thursday morning.
“The House of Commons IT support team, in collaboration with our partners, have implemented mitigating measures and restored services to appropriate service levels. The IT team is still continuously monitoring for such activities.”
She added that the Commons administration is helping their Senate colleagues “to provide guidance and support them to restore services.”
Elections Canada also experienced roughly an hour-long denial-of-service attack starting around midnight early Wednesday, Ottawa time.
“This website does not host any sensitive data or information. It is separate from our main website, elections.ca, and is hosted by an external service provider. It is in no way connected to the network that supports elections.ca,” the agency wrote in a statement.
“Our systems are monitored in real time both internally, and by the Canadian Cyber Security Centre, enabling us to quickly detect any anomalies on our platforms and systems. They are aware of the incident.”
That centre is under the umbrella of the Communications Security Establishment, Canada’s signals-intelligence agency.
A hacking group named Indian Cyber Force claimed responsibility for the incidents involving the military and Elections Canada, and it appeared to have managed to infiltrate a handful of websites owned by small businesses in Canada.
The group made reference to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau telling Parliament on Sept. 18 that there were “credible allegations” of Indian involvement in the killing of Sikh independence activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who had been wanted by India for years and was gunned down in June outside the temple he led.
The hacking group has posted multiple versions of a message riddled with spelling and grammatical errors onto websites of restaurants and medical clinics.
The affected sites show a message on a black background with green digits, similar to the film “The Matrix,” as warlike music plays.
The message described Canada as a haven for terrorists — a “heaven hub,” it said in butchered English — and similarly insulted Sikh separatists.
It also criticized Trudeau for “throwing something without any prove,” or proof.
The group claimed to have attacked Elections Canada and the Ottawa Hospital, though these sites appeared to be operating normally Thursday morning. The Canadian Press has asked those responsible for these web pages to confirm whether they have been affected.
The hacking group also claimed to have taken down the Global Affairs Canada website for travel advisories, but the department insists this hasn’t happened, and the group deleted that claim from its account on the social-media application Telegram.
News of the attacks came as questions abounded over Indian officials’ level of co-operation with Canadian officials over Trudeau’s allegations — and to what extent allies such as the United States were advocating on Canada’s behalf.
On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with India’s foreign-affairs minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.
Neither of them made mention of the controversy in Canada when they emerged briefly to pose for photos before their meeting began.
During a State Department briefing prior to that meeting, spokesman Matthew Miller refused to speculate on what the secretary would tell Jaishankar directly.
“What I will say, however, is we have consistently engaged with the Indian government on this question and have urged them to co-operate, and that engagement and urging them to co-operate will continue,” Miller said.
“We urge them to co-operate with the Canadian investigation.”
Miller flatly refused comment when asked about a television interview last week with U.S. ambassador to Canada David Cohen, who confirmed that Canada received intelligence from one of its Five Eyes security partners.
“I am not going to speak to intelligence matters from the podium.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 28, 2023.
— With files from James McCarten in Washington, D.C.
After briefing on intel, Singh says ‘clear evidence’ India involved in B.C. killing
New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh speaks with the media on Parliament Hill, Tuesday, September 26, 2023 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
By Stephanie Taylor in Ottawa
Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said Tuesday he received an intelligence briefing about allegations that the Indian government could be behind the killing of a Sikh gurdwara leader in British Columbia.
“I can confirm what the prime minister has shared publicly: that there is clear intelligence that Canada has that lays out the following case that a Canadian citizen was killed on Canadian soil and a foreign government was involved,” Singh told reporters in Ottawa on Tuesday.
“That intelligence is something that I think is very credible.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the House of Commons Sept. 18 about “credible allegations” that the Indian government was involved in the June death of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Surrey, B.C.
The well-known activist belonged to a movement that advocated for the creation of an independent Sikh state in India’s Punjab province. India’s government had labelled him a terrorist but has denied any involvement in his killing, calling the allegations by Trudeau “absurd and motivated.”
The extraordinary allegation has worsened already rocky relations between India and Canada. India’s government has accused Canada of not providing evidence to back up its claim, while Trudeau and other other ministers have called on India to co-operate with investigations.
Singh said Trudeau first told him and Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre about the allegations against India before sharing them publicly. Three days later, Singh received a briefing from Trudeau’s national security adviser, Jody Thomas.
Singh told reporters Tuesday that he was able to request the briefing on the matter because of the top-secret security clearance he obtained to review foreign-interference materials prepared by former governor general David Johnston, who had been named as a special rapporteur to explore that issue. Johnston has resigned from that role.
The former governor general’s report had concluded that Trudeau’s government did not knowingly or negligently fail to act on foreign attempts to interfere in the last two federal elections.
He had also recommended against calling a public inquiry into the issue. The Liberal government ended up tapping Quebec Court of Appeal Justice Marie-Josée Hogue to lead one earlier this month after months of outcry from, and discussions with, opposition parties.
Singh said that after reviewing the confidential material he had access to from Johnston, he agrees a public inquiry into foreign interference is necessary.
Poilievre has so far rejected getting the clearance needed to review the top-secret annex from Johnston’s earlier report.
Poilievre said Tuesday that he was offered a briefing similar to one B.C. Premier David Eby received on the matter.
He said he doesn’t believe the briefing will offer any more substantial details on the allegation and would only force him to be tight-lipped about whatever he learned.
The Conservative leader has called on Trudeau to “come clean” about the evidence behind the allegation against India, saying Canadians deserve more facts.
Singh said Tuesday he does not support that call.
“They’re matters of national security and so information cannot be released beyond the general statements that were released,” he said.
“There’s going to be a next step in the investigation and a prosecution and then information will be made public in an appropriate manner. … To do it early would jeopardize the investigation.”
A Canadian official told The Associated Press that the allegation of India’s involvement is based on surveillance of Indian diplomats in Canada, including intelligence provided by a major ally.
The official said the communications involved Indian government officials and Indian diplomats in Canada and that some of the intelligence was provided by a member of the “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing alliance — Canada, the U.S., Britain, Australia and New Zealand.
The official did not say which ally provided the intelligence or give any details of the communications or how they were obtained. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
In an interview with CTV’s Question Period that aired on Sunday, David Cohen, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, confirmed “there was shared intelligence among Five Eyes partners that helped lead Canada to making the statements that the prime minister made.”
He said he does not generally comment on “private diplomatic conversations,” but added: “There was a lot of communication between Canada and the United States about this, and I think that’s as far as I’m comfortable going.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 26, 2023.
— With files from James McCarten in Washington and The Associated Press.
Excess deaths in Canada and most western nations remain very high long after pandemic deaths subside
Moneris confirms credit and debit card processing outage, but offers few details
Expanding transit access for low-income Albertans
Military drops sexual misconduct charge against Lt.-Gen. Steve Whelan
THE JACKPOT IS OVER $14000 AND THE WINNER WILL TAKE HALF!!!
Hot rental market makes search ‘stressful’ for many — and it won’t get better soon
Regulator rules in favour of Trans Mountain route deviation
National2 days ago
U Sports drops first-year grade requirements for participation, scholarships
Top Story CP2 days ago
Judge grants injunction over Saskatchewan’s pronoun policy for schools
Energy2 days ago
First Nation wants reasons for Trans Mountain ruling; says it’s entitled to appeal
Food2 days ago
Food insecurity among Indigenous kids is a ‘public health crisis,’ doctors say
espionage2 days ago
Cyberattacks hit military, Parliament websites as India hacker group targets Canada
Justice2 days ago
Moe says Saskatchewan to use notwithstanding clause over pronoun policy
Alberta1 day ago
Man dies in Edmonton mall parkade after standing up through car sunroof: police
Top Story CP1 day ago
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California dies at age 90, sources tell the AP