(Bloomberg) — President Joe Biden said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy tuned out warnings that Russia would invade his country in the lead-up to the Feb. 24 attack.
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“I know a lot of people thought I was maybe exaggerating, but I knew, and we had data to sustain, he was going in off the border. There was no doubt. And Zelenskiy didn’t want to hear it, nor did a lot of people,” Biden said Friday during a political fundraiser in Los Angeles.
The president acknowledged that the possibility of Russian President Vladimir Putin launching a full-scale invasion may have seemed far-fetched, saying, “I understand why they didn’t want to hear it.”
Biden accused Putin of “trying to obliterate the culture, not just the nation, but the culture” of Ukraine and said the Russian leader sees the capital of Kyiv as “the seat of mother Russia.”
Russia’s military failed to capture Kyiv but has made advances in Ukraine’s south and east, where Putin hopes to capture all of the Donbas region. Ukraine’s military has mounted counterattacks outside the city of Kharkiv in the north and in the region around the occupied city of Kherson in the south.
The president spoke at the Los Angeles home of investor Andrew Hauptman at an event that was expected to raise about $2.5 million for the Democratic National Committee and Democratic Grassroots Victory Fund, according to a party official. The event was co-hosted by Hollywood producer Jeffrey Katzenberg.
The president is speaking at a second fund-raising event later Friday at the home of billionaire producer and investor Haim Saban that’s also expected to net about $2.5 million for the Democratic Party. Biden is in Los Angeles to host the Summit of the Americas.
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