The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Moscow presses demands to block Ukraine from NATO

An old German tank sits by a road sign in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, that points the way to Donetsk and Mariupol in Ukraine. (Arthur Bondar for The Washington Post)
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President Biden offered a bleak warning on Thursday that Russia will attack Ukraine “in the next several days,” as the Kremlin rejected U.S. security proposals and shelling escalated in eastern Ukraine.

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The warning from the president, just days after a brief hope that Russia was easing off its threats against Kyiv, came as optimism soured in Washington that it would be possible to avoid conflict in Ukraine. Speaking at the United Nations Security Council, Secretary of State Antony Blinken listed dire possibilities Russia could use as pretexts for an intervention, including staging a chemical weapons attack.

What to know

  • Ukraine said shelling from separatists hit a kindergarten in Stanytsia Luhanska, blowing a hole in the side of the building. Three adults suffered concussions, officials said. No children were reported injured.
  • The Russian government said it expelled the second-ranking U.S. diplomat, Deputy Chief of Mission Bart Gorman. A senior State Department official said Gorman departed last week.
  • Blinken said the world faces “a moment of peril” and proposed meeting his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, next week in Europe.
  • Biden said the threat of a Russian invasion remains “very high” and that Russia may be creating a pretext for it with a “false flag operation.”
  • An observer mission from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said Thursday that it had counted 591 violations of the cease-fire in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday, up from 153 the prior day.