Biden, White House trying to clarify “minor intrusion” comments about Russia


President Joe Biden and White House officials suggest that Russia’s “minor invasion” of Ukraine is less responsive to the U.S. and its allies than a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the president said on Wednesday. I am trying to clarify the statement I made.

Russia has gathered about 100,000 troops along the border with Ukraine and in the Crimean annexation of Russia in recent weeks. Western nations say they are preparing for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but Russia denies planning an attack. However, Moscow demanded a promise from NATO that Ukraine would never be recognized as a member.

A series of high-level talks between the United States and Russia have not yet eased tensions.

Biden and his administration have publicly and in consultation with the Kremlin that Russia’s further invasion of Ukraine will lead to “severe” sanctions by the United States and its allies.

But at a press conference on January 19, Biden said:

“I think what you see is that you will be held liable if Russia invades. And it depends on what it does. If it’s a minor invasion, it’s 1 It’s one thing, and then we’re arguing about what to do, what not to do, and so on. “

When asked to clarify this statement later in the meeting, Biden replied:

“For example, if there is a significant lack of significant aggression, or if there is only a non-major, major military force encountered, for example, whether continued use of cyber activities can do the same. There is one thing to judge: in cyber. “

Biden then said that there are differences in what some NATO member states “willingly do depending on what happens,” adding that it is important that NATO is on the “same page.”

Following the meeting, White House spokesman Jen Psaki reiterated the White House’s stance on the situation between Russia and Ukraine and issued a statement that made Biden’s statement somewhat clearer.

“President Biden had a clear discussion with the Russian president. If Russian troops move across the Ukrainian border, it is a new invasion and will face a swift, rigorous and united response from the United States and its allies.” Read the statement.

“President Biden also knows from long experience that Russians have an extensive playbook of aggression lacking military action, including cyber attacks and quasi-military tactics, and he today in Russia. We have confirmed that the aggression is filled with a decisive, mutual and united response. “

Biden also launched an infrastructure conference on Thursday, stating:

“If Putin makes this choice, there is no doubt that Russia will pay a lot.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also made a clear reference to the statement at the press conference when Biden posted on Twitter in both Ukrainian and English. Just as there are few minor casualties or sorrows from losing a loved one. “

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also told reporters Thursday: It will be a disaster for the world.

“And Britain stands directly behind Ukraine’s sovereignty and integrity.”

At a Biden press conference on Wednesday, he went even further, predicting that Russia would advance the invasion when it repeated that the decision was solely for President Vladimir Putin.

“I’m not sure what he’s trying to do. My guess is he’ll move in,” Biden said. “He has to do something.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet with the Ministers of the United Kingdom, France and Germany in Berlin on Thursday and with Russian Foreign Minister Sergeń≠ Viklov in Geneva, Switzerland on Friday.

Nick Ciolino

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Nick Ciolino covers the White House.