Amid varying and multiple reports for many weeks that Ukraine faced an “imminent” and “immediate” invasion by Russian, including a predicted invasion date of February 16th, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivered a passionate speech at the Munich Security Conference with thanks and gratitude but also jabs and appeals to NATO and the European Union to help it secure its borders.

“You’re telling me that it’s 100% that the war will start in a couple of days. Then what [are you] waiting for?” he told the Western leaders present at the Munich Security Conference speech and interview portions.

“We don’t need your sanctions after the bombardment will happen, and after our country will be fired at or after we will have no borders or after we will have no economy or parts of our country will be occupied. Why would we need those sanctions then? What is this about? So when you’re asking what can be done, well, lots of different things can be done. We can even provide you with a list.”

One of the items on that list would be forcing the end of work on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.  This pipeline runs under the Baltic Sea bypassing NATO countries like Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland to supply natural gas to Germany. By running it under the sea, rather than overland, it gives Russia complete control of its operations. Currently, Russia provides 40% of Europe’s natural gas.  In 2019 President Trump signed legislation into law over the objections of the EU that sanctioned countries working on Nord Stream 2.  In May of 2021, President Biden defied Congress and lifted the sanctions on Nord Stream 2 and the companies building it, clearing it for completion.

President Biden and the State Department have used the threat of “crippling sanctions” against Russia should it invade in the attempt to deter Putin.

These statements from the Ukrainian President come after President Biden claimed that Russia has finally decided to invade Ukraine in the coming days after the February 16 prediction passed without Russia armored formations rolling into Ukraine. “We have reason to believe that Russian forces are planning and intend to attack Ukraine in the coming week, in the coming days,” said US President Biden after February 16th in making a new prediction about when Russia will invade.  There has been public speculation by media pundits that Russia would delay his invasion until after China finished hosting the Winter Olympic Games which ended on Sunday, February 20th.

With Zelensky hearing these predictions again after he pleaded not to spread further panic, he questioned the US’ decision not to impose said economic sanctions as a preemptive measure while it was publishing potential dates of invasion. He said that constantly talking about the possible dates of the invasion is not the only action that can be done against the crisis while waiting for an invasion the White House is certain will occur. He further pointed out that he needed other dates, possibly referring to Ukraine’s admission into NATO.

Ukrainian President Zelensky speaking to world leaders at the Munich Security Conference receiving a standing ovation (President Volodymyr Zelensky Official Website). Source:
Ukrainian President Zelensky speaking to world leaders at the Munich Security Conference, receiving a standing ovation (President Volodymyr Zelensky Official Website)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken defended the US’ decision not to place sanctions ahead of the invasion due to a ‘deterrent effect’ amid Zelensky’s statements at the Munich Security Conference. “The purpose of the sanctions in the first instance is to try to deter Russia from going to war. As soon as you trigger them, that deterrent is gone. And until the last minute, as long as we can try to bring a deterrent effect to this, we’re going to try to do that,” Blinken said in an interview with CNN.