Ukraine's Zelensky Tries to Clean Up Biden Mess: Russian Invasion Risks 'Haven't Increased'

Ukraine's Zelensky Tries to Clean Up Biden Mess: Russian Invasion Risks 'Haven't Increased'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivered an emergency evening speech to his citizens on Wednesday night in response to a series of bizarre comments by his American counterpart Joe Biden that appeared to indicate the latter’s certainty that Russia would invade Ukraine and assert America would not act in the event of a “minor incursion.”

Zelensky urged citizens to “take a deep breath” and “calm down,” reminding them that Russia already invaded Ukraine in 2014 – Russia has been illegally present in Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula since then – and, contradicting Biden, asserting that the risk of further invasion had not significantly changed in recent weeks.

Zelensky posted the speech to his social media accounts:

Без паніки. З вірою в Україну та мир!

Posted by Володимир Зеленський on Wednesday, January 19, 2022

“Didn’t the invasion start in 2014? Has the threat of war emerged just now? These risks have existed for more than a year, and they haven’t increased,” Zelensky asserted, according to a translation by the news site Ukrinform. “What has increased is the hype around them.”

“All our citizens, especially the elderly, need to understand this. Take a deep breath. Calm down,” Zelensky reportedly urged. “Don’t run for buckwheat and matches. To all the media – remain mass media, not sources of mass hysteria. In the pursuit of hype don’t help the enemy, reporting daily that war may start tomorrow! This will definitely not stop it.”

“What are you supposed to do? Only one thing. Keep your head calm and cool, remain confident in your strength, in your Army, in our Ukraine,” the president advised. “Do not get anxious, react smartly to everything, not emotionally! With your head, not your heart.”

Zelensky also used the opportunity to apparently condemn the Biden administration for refusing to sanction or in any way punish Russia’s belligerent behavior. Zelensky has spent much of the past year urging the United States and other allied nations to sanction the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline project, which would connect Russia to Germany and essentially grant Russia a monopoly over the western European fuel supply. Biden has ignored Zelensky, stating he would only consider sanctions after Russia invades.

Zelensky has in the past lamented that sanctions after an invasion “won’t matter.”

On Wednesday, the president condemned Biden’s “abstract ‘they’ll face consequences’ rhetoric,” without naming Biden personally.

Zelensky’s nationally televised remarks were a direct response to Biden appearing to abandon Ukraine to Russian colonization during a press conference that day.

“My guess is he will move in. He has to do something,” Biden said when asked if he believed Russian leader Vladimir Putin would greenlight a military invasion of Ukraine (presumably a separate invasion from the two currently underway in Crimea and Donbas, an Eastern Ukrainian region).

Frances Martel