Biden warns Putin of “devastating” consequences of Russian invasion of Ukraine
US President Joe Biden warned Vladimir Putin that he would send additional troops to his allies in Eastern Europe if Russia invaded Ukraine, in one of his harshest warnings to date over the fallout from Moscow’s military action.
Speaking to reporters after remarks about the deadly tornadoes that hit the United States, Biden said if Putin “heads for Ukraine” he will face “devastating” economic consequences. Washington and its Western allies are discussing a heavy package of economic and financial sanctions to punish Moscow in a more damaging way than they did when Russia invaded Crimea in 2014.
But Biden added that the United States and NATO would also strengthen the defense of the B9 countries, a group of alliance members in Central and Eastern Europe that are most vulnerable to the security threat posed by Russia.
“We will find that there is a need to send more US and NATO troops to the eastern flank, the B9, all those NATO countries where we have a sacred obligation to defend them against any attack from Russia. “Biden said.
The United States has shown no desire to deploy troops directly to Ukraine. But Biden said Washington “will continue to provide, and we have and continue to provide, the defense capabilities of the Ukrainian people.”
The US president also suggested that Russia would pay “a terrible price” in terms of image if it attacked Ukraine.
Biden’s comments came after a week of tense negotiations over Ukraine’s fate, following warnings from the United States that Putin was preparing to attack his neighbor with up to 175,000 troops. Biden held a two-hour call with Putin in which he warned the Russian leader against any action. But he opened the door to a negotiation and to a possible “accommodation” vis-à-vis Ukraine, disconcerting certain NATO allies in Eastern Europe.
Since then, Russia has made a series of demands on the United States, including that it curb any ambition to expand NATO further, which have been rejected by US administration officials.
“[Biden] stands by the proposition that countries should be able to freely choose with whom to associate, ”Jake Sullivan, White House national security adviser, told reporters.