White House Is Using the I-Word on Ukraine

'I am calling it an invasion,' says a national security official
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 22, 2022 10:45 AM CST
White House Is Using the I-Word on Ukraine
A Ukrainian service member leaves a command post to start his shift outside Popasna, in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine, on Sunday.   (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Do Russia's actions in Ukraine constitute an invasion? The answer is important because it will determine the severity of response from the US and other nations. Earlier Tuesday, an EU official described Vladimir Putin's decision to send troops to two self-described republics this way: "I wouldn't say that [it is] a fully fledged invasion, but Russian troops are on Ukrainian soil." And the White House position? The word "invasion" is now in use, notes the Washington Post, something Politico describes as a "rhetorical shift."

  • The term: "We think this is, yes, the beginning of an invasion, Russia's latest invasion into Ukraine," White House national security official Jonathan Finer told CNN. "I think 'latest' is important here," Finer added. "An invasion is an invasion, and that is what is underway. But Russia has been invading Ukraine since 2014," he said, referring to Russia's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.
  • Did not misspeak: When pressed on the point, Finer responded: "I don't know how much more clear I can be. ... This is the beginning of an invasion. ... I mean, again, I guess for the third or fourth time, I am calling it an invasion."
  • The shift: Previously, White House officials avoided the word because President Biden has said an invasion would trigger a full slate of severe sanctions on Moscow, notes the AP. So far, those penalties haven't been unleashed. Why the change? "The White House decided to begin referring to Russia's actions as an 'invasion' because of the situation on the ground," per the AP, citing an anonymous US official. Biden himself was to speak later Tuesday.
(More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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