White House Correspondent Ksenija Pavlovic Mcateer gives her take on the latest news from the White House

THE WHITE HOUSE

President Biden will spend the weekend at the White House in anticipation of Russia’s next move.

DIGITAL ASSETS

The FBI is launching a cryptocurrency crime unit which aims to cripple the business model of the “bad guys.”

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia appears imminent as the UK’s MoD releases Putin’s possible axis of invasion in an intelligence update.  

*All this and more ahead!

Good Morning DC!

Moscow expelled the US Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) to Russia, Bart Gorman, yesterday.The State Department has said they consider it an “escalatory step.”  

Aboard Air Force One, White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that “Russia’s actions against our deputy chief of mission, who was a key member of the embassy’s leadership team, was unprovoked.” 

The White House believes that Putin is publicly offering to participate in diplomatic discussions, making claims about de-escalation, “while privately mobilizing for war.”

Evidence? 

“Russia has increased its troop presence along that Ukraine border by as many as 7,000 troops, with some arriving in the past 24 hours,” said Jean-Pierre. 

She also outlined a number of “false flag” situations Russia could use as a pretext to move on Ukraine. These include:

  • a provocation in Donbas
  • a claim about NATO activity by land, at sea, or in the air
  • an incursion into Russian territory

Is Russia saying anything?

The Kremlin accused Biden of stoking tension by claiming Russia intends to invade Ukraine within days, according to Russia’s Novosti.  

ON THIS DAY

On this day in 1930, planet Pluto was discovered by a 24-year-old American Clyde Tombaugh. He had no formal training and/or education on the subject.

Q&A With President Joe Biden About Putin’s Plan To Move On Ukraine

Joe Biden: We have reason to believe they [Russia] are engaged in a false flag […]

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THE WHITE HOUSE

President Biden has no public activities on his calendar today. While the president usually departs on Fridays to Delaware or Camp David, it’s likely that he will spend the weekend at the White House in anticipation of Russia’s next move. 

A White House official said that in the afternoon, Biden will speak with Transatlantic leaders on a phone “about Russia’s buildup of military troops on the border of Ukraine and our continued efforts to pursue deterrence and diplomacy.”

DIGITAL ASSETS

The FBI is launching a crypto crime unit that will be led by Eun Young Choi. 

“Ransomware and digital extortion, like many other crimes fueled by cryptocurrency, only work if the bad guys get paid, which means we have to bust their business model,” said US Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco at the conference in Munich. “The currency might be virtual, but the message to companies is concrete: if you report to us, we can follow the money and not only help you but hopefully prevent the next victim.”

TODAY’S CRYPTO PRICES

Bitcoin (BTC):$43,236.69

Ether (ETH):$3,058.28

SOL:$98.55

LUNA: $55.48

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

President Biden said that he believes there’s a “high risk” now of a further Russian invasion of Ukraine and that it “will happen within the next several days.” Read the full Q & A with Biden on Russia here.

Secretary Blinken spoke to the UN Security Council on his way to Munich and said that he sent a letter to Foreign Minister Lavrov “to meet next week in Europe to discuss steps that can be taken to resolve the crisis.”

The UK Ministry of Defense said that “We have seen no evidence that Russian forces are withdrawing from Ukrainian border regions.”

In an intelligence update, the UK’s MoD published Putin’s possible axis of invasion.

And that’s a wrap for this Friday morning, February 18, 2022. Good Morning DC will be back on Monday to bring you the latest first. 

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Ksenija Pavlovic McAteer

Ksenija Pavlovic is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Pavlovic Today, The Chief White House Correspondent. Pavlovic was a Teaching Fellow and Doctoral Fellow in the Political Science department...