10:05 21 Jan 2022

Biden casted back comments about Russia's invasion of Ukraine

Photo Reuters

President Biden sought to clarify his assumption that Russia's "minor invasion" of Ukraine might not provoke the same reaction as a major invasion.

Аxios reported about this.

"I was absolutely honest with President Putin. He clearly understood that if any, any Russian unit crosses the Ukrainian border, it is an invasion," Biden said.

Putin knows that such aggression will be met with a "strict and coordinated economic response," Biden continued.

To recap, on Thursday he told reporters that "Russia will pay a stiff price" if any troops cross the border. The US president also said that "Russia will be held accountable if it invades. And it depends on what it does; it's one thing if it's a minor incursion and… we end up having to fight about what to do and what not to do."

Some officials in Kyiv have described Biden's comments as a call for Russian aggression.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy previously wrote on Twitter: "We want to remind the great powers that there are no minor invasions and small nations. Just as there are no small victims and little grief from the loss of loved ones. I say this as President of great power."

Russia has already used hybrid tactics to destabilize Ukraine, including through cyberattacks and the deployment of paramilitary formations without identification. Biden also commented on this.

Biden acknowledged that Russia could "use measures other than open hostilities," and said, "we must be prepared to respond to them."

In conclusion, he told Kyiv that he "has the right to be" confident in US support.

Why it's important: Biden's seemingly impromptu remarks on Wednesday reflected what many fear in reality: that the United States and its European allies disagree on what Russia's actions should have the "huge" consequences they promised.

Biden openly admitted when asked Wednesday that he had commented on "disagreements within NATO" over how to react, seconds after he warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin was seeking to split NATO.

Senior US officials, such as Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, have sought to represent a united front with Europe in their dozens of diplomatic meetings in recent weeks. Biden's comments instantly undermined those efforts.

It should be noted that the Ukrainian government insists that the United States impose sanctions on Russia now, arguing that this will be the best way to show Putin that the West is serious about restraint.

"Speaking of small and full-scale invasions, you can't be half-aggressive. You're either aggressive or non-aggressive," Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told the Wall Street Journal.

"We should not give Putin any chance to play quasi-aggression or small invasion operations. This aggression has been since 2014. That is a fact."

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