Biden Says Putin Likely To Advance Into Ukraine: ‘He Has To Do Something’
President Joe Biden said Wednesday that he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin will advance into Ukraine, while at the same time trying to address Russia’s main complaint, indicating that Ukraine would not be joining NATO in the near future.
“I’m not so sure he has, he’s certain what he’s going to do,” Biden said. “My guess is he will move in. He has to do something.”
Biden, who spoke during a nearly two-hour White House press conference, suggested there was disagreement within NATO about imposing strong sanctions on Russia because it would harm the economies of some European allies.
Biden vowed that “Russia will be held accountable if it invades” Ukraine and seemed to suggest that a “minor incursion” by Russia would call for a different response from the United States.
“It depends on what it does,” Biden said, anticipating action from Russia. “It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and then we have to end up having to fight about what to do and not do, etcetera.”
Biden did indicate that a full-scale invasion would still have severe consequences, saying it would “be a disaster for Russia.”
Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a press conference later that any kind of Russian military incursion into Ukraine would be met with a “severe” response. Psaki indicated that a lesser “reciprocal” response would be met with more-limited actions, such as “cyberattacks and paramilitary tactics.”
“President Biden has been clear with the Russian President: If any Russian military forces move across the Ukrainian border, that’s a renewed invasion, and it will be met with a swift, severe, and united response from the United States and our Allies,” Psaki said. “President Biden also knows from long experience that the Russians have an extensive playbook of aggression short of military action, including cyberattacks and paramilitary tactics. And he affirmed today that those acts of Russian aggression will be met with a decisive, reciprocal, and united response.”
Biden seemed to be trying to appease Russia by downplaying the possibility of Ukraine joining NATO “in the near term,” saying it is “not very likely” because more work is needed.
Putin has described the possibility of Ukraine joining NATO and the alliance deploying weapons there as a “red line” for Moscow. The Kremlin demanded that Washington and its allies make a binding pledge excluding NATO’s expansion to Ukraine, Georgia, or any other ex-Soviet nation.
“The only thing I’m confident of is that decision is totally, solely, completely a Putin decision,” Biden said of a potential invasion. “Nobody else is gonna make that decision and nobody else is gonna impact that decision. He’s making that decision.”
Last week, Russian diplomats met with officials from the United States and its NATO allies for security negotiations in three European cities amid the massing of Russian troops and equipment near Ukraine’s border.