Biden says it would be a ‘disaster’ for Russia if Putin invades Ukraine
President Joe Biden said on Wednesday it would be a “disaster” for Russia if President Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion of neighboring Ukraine – as he said he did not know Putin’s intentions but said his counterpart did not want a “full-fledged war”.
But the president also publicly said it was unclear what the response would be if Russia did anything less than an all-out invasion – forcing the White House to act immediately to clean up his remarks.
“It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and we end up having to fight over what to do and what not to do, etc.,” Biden said at a press conference at the White House where Russia has intervened on several occasions.
Later Wednesday night, National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne wrote that Biden had “clarified that.” He was referring to the difference between Russian military and non-military/para-military/cyber action. Such actions would be the subject of a reciprocal response, in coordination with Allies and partners,” she said.
A Ukrainian official, responding to Biden’s original comments, told CNN after the press conference: “This remark potentially gives Putin the green light to enter Ukraine at will.”
The White House was also forced to issue a full clarifying statement. “President Biden has been clear with the Russian President: if Russian military forces cross the Ukrainian border, this is another invasion, and it will be met with a swift, severe and united response from the United States and our allies,” according to a statement from White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
“President Biden also knows from his long experience that the Russians have a vast playbook of aggression without military action, including cyberattacks and paramilitary tactics. And he affirmed today that these Russian acts of aggression would be met with a decisive, reciprocal and united response,” she said.
Biden said he was unsure of Putin’s intentions – saying it could be based on “which side of the bed he gets up in the morning to know exactly what he’s going to do”.
I’m not sure he’s sure what he’s going to do. I guess he’s going to move in. He has to do something,’ Biden said, saying Russia already had intelligence operatives operating inside the country.
He also speculated on the issues Putin is weighing, amid the collapse of the former Soviet empire.
“He’s trying to find his place in the world between China and the West,” Biden said.
He said he was “very concerned” about the situation, which he said could “very easily spiral out of control”. He called it one of the “most important” situations since World War II “in terms of war and peace”.
“I think he still doesn’t want a full-fledged war,” Biden said, warning of the short-term and long-term consequences she would face.
Biden detailed some of what he thinks Putin would face – suggesting that Russia would be blacklisted and unable to trade in dollars on a global system of interbank electronic transactions – which could weigh heavily on his economy.
“We find ourselves in a position where … there will be serious economic consequences,” Biden said. “For example, anything that involves dollar cuts – if they invade, they’ll pay. Their banks will not be able to deal in dollars. So a lot is going to happen,” he said.
The president said Russia would pay a “heavy price” through sanctions if it acted, after mustering more than 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border. But he also defined a field for possible discussions on one of Russia’s demands – and even provided assurance on the issue of NATO enlargement.
“He’s never seen sanctions like the ones I promised if he moved,” Biden said of the economic response the United States would impose if Russia were to become its neighbor again, after taking over Crimea. 2014.
“It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and we end up having to fight over what to do and what not to do etc.,” he said.
He said it would be a “disaster for Russia if they invaded Ukraine”.
“But if they actually do what they are able to do with the forces amassed on the border, it will be a disaster for Russia if they invade Ukraine any further.” And that our allies and partners are prepared to impose significant costs and significant damage on Russia and the Russian economy,” the president said.
President Joe Biden says Russia will pay a ‘high price’ through sanctions if it invades Ukraine
He also spoke about his conversations with Putin – which included a summit in Geneva as well as calls and a Zoom session.
He said he told Russia that it had occupied nations before but “the price was extremely high”.
He asked how long Russia could sustain such an effort, which would cause great economic losses.
“How many years,” Biden asked. One? Three? Five? Ten? ‘What price does it take? It’s true. It is substantial.
“It’s not just a walk in the park for Russia,” he predicted. “They will pay a high price immediately ‘and in the medium to long term’ if they do,” Biden said.
National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said Biden had “clarified” his comments and that Russia’s actions would be met with a “reciprocal response.”
Biden said he was unsure of Vladimir Putin’s intentions and that it could depend on “which side of the bed” he woke up from.
Biden spoke about Russia’s difficulty in invading Ukraine from the North
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke with Biden about concerns about a possible invasion. Ukrainian official tells CNN Biden’s comments could give Putin a ‘green light’
He also mentioned two Russian demands: assurances that NATO will not allow Ukraine to join the alliance and a commitment not to position strategic weapons in Ukraine.
“We can work on something on the second track,” Biden predicted.
But on the pledge to admit Ukraine to NATO, he said countries could choose their own alliances. Then he added that in the “short term” it was “unlikely” that Ukraine would have been admitted because there was still work to be done on democracy and other issues.
Nor did he correct an interlocutor when a reporter said Ukraine’s admission could be decades away.