The Morning Dispatch: A Grim Weekend in Ukraine
Happy Monday! So long, 2022 Winter Olympics. We can’t wait to watch the 2026 Games in Milan, which—unless things in Italy take a seriously unexpected turn—won’t exist primarily as a public relations vehicle for a genocidal regime.
Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced late Sunday night President Joe Biden had “accepted in principle” a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the condition that Russia “does not proceed” with military action in Ukraine. Any such summit would come after Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets—also conditionally—with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, on Thursday. The administration isn’t optimistic the meeting will take place, as Biden told reporters Friday he is “convinced” Putin has made the decision to invade Ukraine and target the capital city of Kyiv.
Michael Carpenter, the U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, said Friday the U.S. believes Russia’s troop presence near Ukraine has increased over the past three weeks from 100,000 to between 169,000 and 190,000. The Kremlin said Saturday that the Russian military—under Putin’s direct supervision—had conducted successful hypersonic and cruise missile tests, and although Russia’s joint military exercises in Belarus had been scheduled to end yesterday, Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin said they would be extended due to “the aggravation of the situation” in Ukraine.
Deputy National Security Adviser Anne Neuberger told reporters on Friday the Biden administration believes Russia to be behind the cyberattacks on Ukrainian banks last week.