The tensions building in Ukraine over Russia’s threatening moves along the nation’s border led to a meeting between Joe Biden and his national security team on Saturday. The meeting was prompted explicitly by the news that Vladimir Putin’s government was planning to install a new Ukraine leader friendly to the Kremlin. A US government official reportedly described the Russian plan as “deeply concerning.”
Following the meeting at Camp David, Biden reaffirmed that if Russia undertakes a further invasion of Ukrainian territory, the US and its allies will ensure “swift and severe” consequences.
The Russian plan to interfere with Ukraine’s government was reported by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office on Saturday. A spokesperson said that the UK has information that there is an action plan to install a pro-Russian dictator as part of Russia’s consideration of whether it will invade and attempt to occupy the neighboring country. The UK report is based on anonymous intelligence reports.
The UK spokesperson identified Yevhen Murayev, a former member of the Ukraine Parliament, as a potential candidate to act as a new Russian-placed Ukraine leader. Murayev currently is the leader of Nashi, a minor political party in Ukraine that has no representation in Parliament but is strongly supportive of Russia.
The UK has also been part of the international effort to support Ukraine against Russian threats and has sent anti-tank weapons to the country’s military forces.
National Security Council spokesperson Emily Horne said that the US would continue to stand with our “democratically elected partners” leading the Ukrainian people, who have the “sovereign right” to control their future.
At the Camp David meeting, Pentagon officials reportedly urged Biden to immediately send between 1,000 and 5,000 US troops to Eastern Europe to address the Ukrainian tensions. Biden appears cautious about sending American fighting personnel into another conflict after the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan last year. However, administration officials appear invested in assisting a Ukrainian resistance if Russia undertakes an invasion.