World: U.S. rushes weapons into Ukraine as Biden predicts a Russian invasion

Analysis: Neither Joe Biden nor Vladimir Putin can afford to lose their Ukraine standoff

  Analysis: Neither Joe Biden nor Vladimir Putin can afford to lose their Ukraine standoff Escalating psychological warfare between the United States and Russia over Ukraine is fast approaching a point at which a peaceful exit from a crisis with real-world ramifications for Americans could be impossible. © Getty Images President Joe Biden, backed by the full symbolic power of the Western alliance, is locked in a showdown with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is using Ukraine as a hostage to try to force the US to renegotiate the settled outcome of the Cold War. Neither man is blinking. To do so may be unfeasible, given the huge political stakes both have wagered.

It was chilly in Geneva on Thursday morning, and there was no reason to think the talks between the top diplomats from the U.S. and Russia the following day would be any warmer. Tension between the two global powers continues to rise, with President Biden saying on Wednesday that it was his "guess" Russian President Vladimir Putin would use the roughly 100,000 forces he has massed along the border to "move in" to Ukraine.

"He has to do something," Mr. Biden said during a White House news conference, warning that if Putin did decide to invade his neighbor, Russia would suffer "consequential" loss of life. The president didn't elaborate on the level of military assistance the U.S. might offer Ukraine in the face of an invasion, but it came as his administration worked with NATO allies to bolster Ukraine's forces — and quickly.

Russia is risking all-out war to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO

  Russia is risking all-out war to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO Russia's dealings — or, more accurately, its clashes — with the West have focused on one country in recent years: Ukraine.It's back in focus this week with a series of high-stakes meetings taking place between Russian and western officials which are centered on trying to diffuse heightened tensions between Russia and its neighbor.

U.S. weapons, Russian war games

U.S. officials confirmed to CBS News that the Biden administration had given permission to several NATO allies to send emergency shipments of U.S.-made weapons — including anti-tank missiles — to Ukraine to reinforce the country's defenses. State Department sources said allies including Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the U.K. were cleared to make "Third Party Transfers" of U.S.-made and supplied equipment to Ukraine, which one official described as part of a race "to get as much gear to the Ukrainians as quickly as possible."

Russia, meanwhile, was moving military hardware and troops into Belarus — a close Russian ally that borders not only Ukraine, but also Lithuania, Latvia and Poland — for military exercises set to take place in February. American officials have voiced concern that Russia could use its troop presence in Belarus as another route to stage an overt invasion of Ukraine, or a so-called "false-flag" operation to create a "pretext for invasion."

Where Ukraine's sunflowers once sprouted, fears now grow

  Where Ukraine's sunflowers once sprouted, fears now grow WASHINGTON (AP) — On a warm spring day in Ukraine 26 years ago, three men smiled for cameras as they planted symbolic sunflower seedlings in freshly tilled earth where Soviet nuclear missiles had once stood ready. That placid scene was, briefly, a launchpad for hope that the demise of the Soviet Union would bury the threat of great power war and mark the start of lasting peace in an undivided Europe. Today Ukraine is ground zero for worry that Russia will ignite a conflict that could engulf the region.On that early-June day in 1996, the American secretary of defense, William J.

Russia continues to amass forces at Ukraine b... 09:20 © Provided by CBS News Russia continues to amass forces at Ukraine b... 09:20

Russia's defense ministry also announced on Thursday that it would conduct naval exercises "in all areas of responsibility of its fleets," including the Mediterranean, the northern Arctic seas, the northeastern Atlantic and in the Pacific Ocean. The drills, to take place in January and February, will involve more than 140 ships, 60 aircraft and about 10,000 forces, the ministry said.

The ministry said the drills would cover regions of seas and oceans adjacent to Russian territory, as well as what the Russian military called "operationally important areas" of other bodies of water.

U.S. and allies on the "same page"?

Secretary of State Antony Blinken left Ukraine early Thursday morning for Germany, where he was to meet with allies who, by President Biden's own admission, are not all on the "same page" about the level of sanctions to impose on Russia should Putin choose to invade his neighbor again. Russian forces last openly invaded Ukraine in 2014, when Putin unilaterally annexed the Crimean Peninsula.

GOP Blames Biden for Russian Aggression. Don’t Forget About Trump.

  GOP Blames Biden for Russian Aggression. Don’t Forget About Trump. As Russian President Vladimir Putin lays the groundwork for an invasion into Ukraine, Republicans in Congress have been laying the groundwork to blame President Joe Biden for failing to prevent an attack. But it’s former President Donald Trump, recently retired military officials and diplomats told The Daily Beast, who may bear more responsibility for the looming crisis with Russia than Biden. Trump, whose relationship with Russia has been famously complicated, pushed back on providing aid to Ukraine in 2017. Trump was reportedly resistant to providing the security aid, in part, because he wanted Ukraine to pay the United States back.

American officials have played down divisions within NATO over how much pressure to exert on Russia. The U.S. and Britain, for instance, have extended direct military aid to Ukraine, while Germany has declined to do so.

There was scant immediate reaction from EU capitals to President Biden's tough rhetoric on Thursday, but French President Emmanuel Macron said Europe should have its own negotiations with Russia and not rely on the U.S. to speak for it.

Asked about the divisions among allies, a senior State Department official insisted to CBS News on Thursday that there was "universal agreement on the steep costs" Russia must be forced to pay if it does invade, and the U.S. and its allies were "in the process of finalizing the mechanics" on how to ensure that could be done.

Reading Russian minds

The biggest outstanding question, from the perspective of U.S. officials and their allies, had not changed as Blinken prepared for his Friday meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov: What does Putin really want?

White House warning on Russia and Ukraine 01:38 © Provided by CBS News White House warning on Russia and Ukraine 01:38

Kremlin officials have insisted that Russia has no plans or intentions to invade Ukraine, and Putin and his top aides insist it is the U.S. and NATO fueling animosity by threatening sanctions and moving military hardware and personnel close to Russia's western borders. But Moscow also issues continual warnings of military action if Putin's demands are not met — chiefly his insistence that NATO reject Ukraine's bid for membership.

Senators wrestle with Russia sanctions as Ukraine crisis deepens

  Senators wrestle with Russia sanctions as Ukraine crisis deepens “We should impose those sanctions sooner rather than later, not wait for the invasion to start," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal.With the Biden administration warning that Moscow could launch an offensive against Kyiv at any moment, senators from both parties are hustling to back up their promises of bipartisanship with a legislative response aimed at crippling Russia’s economy if President Vladimir Putin triggers a war in eastern Europe. But despite some positive momentum, Republicans and Democrats have yet to agree on a consensus sanctions plan.

The Biden administration has called that demand a non-starter, but both sides have shown a willingness to at least keep talking, most notably with the Friday meeting between Blinken and Lavrov on the neutral ground in Geneva.

Despite President Biden's "guess" on Wednesday, American officials say they still don't know for certain if Putin has decided to launch an invasion of Ukraine, on any scale, or whether the brinkmanship is merely intended to extract concessions from the U.S. and NATO as Moscow seeks what it calls "security guarantees."

A Ukrainian soldier is seen along the front line as Ukraine's forces battle Russian-backed separatists, near the town of Zolote-4, in eastern Ukraine, January 19, 2022. / Credit: Wolfgang Schwan/Anadolu Agency/Getty © Provided by CBS News A Ukrainian soldier is seen along the front line as Ukraine's forces battle Russian-backed separatists, near the town of Zolote-4, in eastern Ukraine, January 19, 2022. / Credit: Wolfgang Schwan/Anadolu Agency/Getty

Mr. Biden said on Wednesday that he didn't believe Putin wanted a "full-blown war," but that he expected the Russian leader to test the U.S. and NATO's resolve as much as possible.

State Department officials have said they still don't know what Putin is thinking, but they're planning for all eventualities. A large part of Blinken's mission when he meets Lavrov on Friday will no doubt be to assess, to the extent possible, Moscow's intentions.

CBS News' Margaret Brennan in Washington and Mary Ilyushina in Moscow contributed to this report.

Transcript: Secretary of State Antony Blinken on "Face the Nation," January 23, 2022 .
The following is a transcript of an interview with Secretary of State Antony Blinken that aired Sunday, January 23, 2022, on "Face the Nation."MARGARET BRENNAN: Good morning and welcome to FACE THE NATION. We begin with the tense standoff along the Ukraine border. More than one hundred thousand Russian troops are now poised to potentially invade from the north, east and south of Ukraine. Russian fighter jets and missiles arrived in neighboring Belarus, where war games are set to begin. Meanwhile, NATO naval exercises are taking place south of Crimea in the Mediterranean, and 90 tons of military aid just arrived in Kiev from the United States.

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