Biden warns of ‘disaster for Russia’ if they invade Ukraine
- US President Biden warned that Russia would pay a heavy price if it invaded Ukraine.
- Says Putin has taken the situation to a place where it could easily spiral out of control.
- According to Putin, “something significantly less than a major invasion” could be planned to test the United States and NATO.
WASHINGTON — US President Joe Biden warned Russia on Wednesday that it would pay a heavy price for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, but sowed confusion by suggesting that a “small” invasion would entail much less resistance from the West would.
Biden said he doesn’t think President Vladimir Putin wants war, but said the Russian leader has created a situation that is proving extremely difficult to defuse – and one that could easily “get out of hand” in the region.
“I suspect he’ll move in. He has to do something,” Biden said during a press conference marking his first year in office.
He said Putin could plan “something significantly less than a major invasion” to test the United States and NATO, which would face less resistance from allies.
“It’s one thing when it’s a minor intrusion and then we end up having an argument about do’s and don’ts and whatnot,” he said.
– “Fast” and “Hard” –
Republican lawmakers quickly took action against the US leader, accusing him of condoning an attack by Russian troops.
“Joe Biden’s impotence emboldened Vladimir Putin, and now he just gave Putin the green light to invade Ukraine,” Senator Tom Cotton tweeted.
Senator Marco Rubio called Biden’s comments “bizarre”.
“So if (Putin) only takes over parts of Ukraine, our reaction will be less severe than if he takes over everything?” he said on Twitter.
The White House acted quickly to clarify Biden’s comments.
“If any Russian forces cross the Ukrainian border, it will be another invasion, and it will be answered swiftly, sternly and unitedly by the United States and our allies,” spokesman Jen Psaki said.
The Russians “have an extensive playbook of non-military aggression, including cyberattacks and paramilitary tactics,” she noted, referencing Biden’s own statement.
Biden “confirmed today that these acts of Russian aggression will be met with a determined, mutual and unified response,” she said.
– Severe loss of life –
Biden spoke before a meeting between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on Friday.
Blinken met in Kiev on Wednesday to prepare for talks in Geneva and called on Moscow to choose the “peaceful path”.
With more than 100,000 troops and war machines stationed on Ukraine’s borders, Moscow has sent alarms to the West about its threat to Kiev.
Biden said the United States and its allies “stand ready to impose heavy costs and significant damage” on Russia and the Russian economy if they attack.
“If they actually do what they are capable of with the force that they have gathered at the border, it will be a disaster for Russia,” Biden told reporters.
“The cost of entering Ukraine in terms of physical loss of life for the Russians… it will be high.”
– ‘Space to work’ –
Biden seemed to suggest ways to resolve the conflict and downplayed Putin’s biggest concerns that Ukraine would join NATO and that the West would deploy strategic weapons in Ukraine.
And he opened the door to a new summit meeting with his Russian counterpart.
“There’s room to work if he wants to do that,” he said.
“I worry that this could get out of hand, very easily out of control, because of… Ukraine’s borders and what Russia might or might not do,” he said.
“I hope that Vladimir Putin understands that without full-blown nuclear war, he is not in a very good position to rule the world,” Biden said.
“Putin, I know, has a clear choice, either escalation or diplomacy,” he said.
“I think he’s going to pay a high and high price if he doesn’t think now.”