Washington, Jan 19 (EFE).- United States President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that he thinks Russia will invade Ukraine and warned that it would spell “disaster” for Moscow.
Washington has said an attack could happen early this year, which Russian president Vladimir Putin’s administration has denied, while a buildup of more than 100,000 Russian troops is estimated to have amassed along Ukraine’s border.
“I’m not so sure he is certain what he’s going to do. My guess is he will move in. He has to do something,” Biden said at a news conference on the eve of his first anniversary in the White House.
The US president warned that Moscow will be held accountable, although he added that the measures that the US and its allies adopt would depend on the type of military intervention that Russia chooses to carry out.
“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 to not do, et cetera,” Biden said. “But if they actually do what they’re capable of doing, with the forces it’s amassed on the border, it’s going to be a disaster for Russia if they further invade Ukraine.”
Pressed on what a “minor incursion” would be, Biden admitted NATO is divided on its response to various scenarios and that he was trying to make sure that “everybody’s on the same page.”
“There are differences in Nato as to what countries are willing to do, depending on what happens,” Biden said. “If there’s Russian forces crossing the border … I think that changes everything.”
Later, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was forced to clarify that “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.”
“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,” she said.
The US president also said that Washington will help “fortify” its NATO allies in Eastern Europe: “I’ve have already shipped over some $600 million of sophisticated defense equipment to the Ukrainians.”
He also noted that there could be a “heavy” cost of Russian lives, and spoke thoroughly on the imposition of strong sanctions.
Biden said that the US and its allies are prepared to “impose a severe cost and significant harm” on Russia and its economy, and that if Moscow invades, it is “going to pay” and its banks will not be able to make transactions in dollars.
Putin has “never seen sanctions like the ones I promised will be imposed if he moves” in on Ukraine, Biden said.
“I want to be clear with you, the serious imposition of sanctions relative to dollar transactions and other things, are things that are going to have a negative impact on the United States, as well as negative impacts on the economies of Europe as well, a devastating impact on Russia,” he said.
Despite this, the US president considered there is still room to negotiate with Putin, who has asked for guarantees that Ukraine will never be part of NATO and that there will be not be “strategic weapons stationed” by NATO in the Ukraine.
“We can work out something for the second,” said Biden, who regarding the first point stressed that there are international treaties that suggest that a country can choose who they want to be with.
“But the likelihood that Ukraine is going join NATO in the near term is not very likely,” he said. EFE