President Joe Biden indicated on Wednesday that he fears Russia will invade Ukraine and cautioned Russian President Vladimir Putin that if he does, his country will pay a “heavy price” in terms of loss of life and the potential alienation from the global banking system.
At a press conference recognizing his one-year anniversary in office, Joe Biden also said that a “small intrusion” by Russia would be handled with a lower reaction.
He then emphasized that he was referring to a non-military operation, such as hacking, that would elicit a similarly reciprocal response, and that crossing the Ukrainian border and killing Ukrainian fighters would significantly alter the situation.
Nonetheless, the remarks pointed to the difficulty of keeping the US and its NATO partners aligned in their responses to Russia. “It’s really important that we keep everyone in NATO on the same page” he added in explaining the minimal invasion comment.
The press conference was convened at a pivotal moment in Europe, with Russia assembling 100,000 soldiers along the Ukrainian border and a sequence of talks in Europe last week unable to reduce tensions.
On Friday in Geneva, Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Blinken has spoken with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelinsky in Kyiv on Wednesday, and he will go to Berlin on Thursday for meetings with allies.
Biden said that he does not believe Putin has made up his mind about invading but stated that “my guess is he will move in.”
Even after Biden endeavored to elucidate his statements regarding a possible NATO reprisal to a “small invasion” by Russia, the White House moved fast to make it abundantly clear that Biden was not communicating to Putin that the US would condone military action against Ukraine.
According to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, the Russians might deploy an “extensive arsenal of confrontation short of military action, including hacking and paramilitary techniques.”
Psaki said in a statement
As the White House cleaned up, Biden was slammed for his statement about “small incursions.”