Ukraine President Walks Back Statement

In a bizarre turn of events, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has walked back his claim that Russia was expected to invade his country on February 16, instead saying that he was actually just joking with that prediction. Zelensky, a former comedian, has alternatively portrayed the threat as imminent and existential and implied that Western media is exaggerating the danger posed by Russia currently. The United States, at least, seems to think that the threat is very immediate.

Ukrainian president claims invasion comment was a joke

Russia has been massing troops and heavy weapons on the Ukrainian border since late last year. Moscow won’t say what it plans to do with them, but it isn’t hard to guess.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is either going to invade Ukraine or he want the world to think that he will so that NATO and Kiev acquiesce to his demands.

The American government, including President Joe Biden, claim that Putin isn’t bluffing and plans to launch a full scale invasion.

President Zelensky echoed US intelligence reports when he announced to his people that February 16 would be the day, though now he claims that the remark was misunderstood.

If Zelensky was joking then international observers certainly didn’t pick up on his sarcastic tone; the comment was widely reported in Western media as a serious prediction.

The Ukrainian president appears to have been trying to sarcastically comment on the American reports when he suggested that February 16 would be the day, though in translation there is little indication that it was meant to be ironic.

Rejecting US intelligence suggestions

Zelensky is clearly very concerned about the Russian threat but he has continued to argue that the dangers are being exaggerated by Biden and Western media.

The Ukrainian government apparently believes that the global attention being devoted to the threat of war is harming its economy and destabilizing the country by spreading fear and anxiety.

This might be a very reasonably point were it not for the fact that Zelensky himself can’t seem to make up his mind about how the crisis should be addressed publicly.

Announcing that an invasion is expected later in the week and then retracting that announcement and saying it was a misunderstood joke would be odd behavior for any leader, even a comedian.

Instead of redoubling his efforts to mobilize for war, Zelensky says that February 16 will be celebrated as a national union day devoted to Ukrainian independence.

Both sides continue to say that diplomacy is a possible, despite Biden’s apparent belief that there will be open warfare. If a diplomatic solution is found, the White House likely won’t have had much to do with its success.

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