US President Joe Biden has stated that he believes Russia will invade Ukraine, and has warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that the costs of such an invasion will be real and severe, and that the country will face “disaster.”
If the Russian invasion occurs, it will be the most significant event in terms of war and peace since the outbreak of WWII.
On Wednesday, Biden held a press conference to commemorate his first year in office, in which he discussed Putin’s possible motivations, responded to his security proposals, and outlined where the US and Russia could agree and where they couldn’t, as well as what the US response might be in the event of aggression. However, Biden’s remark that a “minor incursion” might not elicit the same reaction caused confusion, prompting a White House clarification that the President was distinguishing between a military invasion and other forms of aggression.
Biden denied that the US withdrawal from Afghanistan was due to incompetence, saying that there was never a good time to leave and that he was unapologetic about his decision.
According to him, the US spends a billion dollars per week in Afghanistan. “Raise your hand if you believe that anyone will be able to unite Afghanistan under a single government.” For a good reason, it’s been the graveyard of empires: it’s not amenable to unification.” The question, according to Biden, was whether he should have kept spending that money when the chances of success were slim. “After 20 years, there was no easy way out of Afghanistan.” It’s not possible, regardless of when you did it. I also make no apologies for my actions.”
He expressed regret for what was taking place “as a result of the Taliban’s incompetence.” “However, I am concerned about the fistulas that are occurring in the Eastern Congo. I’m sorry about a lot of things going on in the world, and I’m sorry that we can’t solve every problem.”
Back to Russia, which was the focus of the questions, Biden said he had no doubt that Putin made the decision to move into Ukraine alone – and it wasn’t clear whether even other Russian interlocutors with whom US negotiators were speaking knew what Putin would do. “Do I believe he will test the West, the United States, and NATO as significantly as he can?” Biden asked, adding that he did not believe Putin wanted a “full-blown war.” I believe he will. But I believe he will pay a heavy and costly price for it.”
“He is dealing with what he thinks is the most tragic thing that has happened to Mother Russia – that the Berlin Wall came down, the Empire has been lost, the Near Abroad is gone, the Soviet Union has been split,” Trump said, speculating on Putin’s motivations. Between China and the West, he is attempting to find his place in the world. As a result, I’m not convinced he knows what he’s going to do. He’ll probably move in, in my opinion. He has to take action.”
Biden said that he and Putin had no trouble communicating, and that Putin had asked for two assurances: that Ukraine would never join NATO, and that the West would not deploy strategic weapons on Ukrainian soil. On the second issue, Biden said they “could work something out.” On the first, while reiterating the principle that countries should be able to choose who they want to be with, the US President stated that Ukraine joining NATO in the near future is “not very likely.” “So there’s room for him to work if he wants to.”
Other Russian security proposals, such as withdrawing Western military forces from the former Soviet bloc, were rejected by Biden, who said: “We are actually going to increase troop presence in Poland, in Romania, if he moves because we have a sacred obligation in Article 5 to defend those countries.”
But Biden’s main point was that, even if it won, Russia would pay a high price if it invaded Ukraine. “The cost of going into Ukraine in terms of physical loss of life, for the Russians, they’ll be able to prevail over time, but it’ll be heavy, it’ll be real, and it’ll be consequential,” he says. He claimed that the US had already sent $600 million in sophisticated equipment to Ukraine and warned that any invasion would lead to NATO fortifying its eastern flank. He mentioned how other European countries, specifically Finland and Sweden, may change their status (by joining NATO).
While many people talked about how Europe relied on Russia for energy supplies, Biden pointed out that money earned from it supported 45 percent of Russia’s economy. “That does not strike me as a one-way street.” They cut it off because, as my mother used to say, “you bite your nose off to spite your face.” He also emphasised the other economic implications that would arise. “Anything involving dollar denominations will be impossible for their banks to deal in dollars.”
“It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and then we end up having a fight about what to do and what not to do,” Biden said early in the press conference when asked about the consequences. Even as he was speaking, Republicans and foreign policy analysts criticised him for weakening the US’s ability to deter Russia. White House press secretary Jen Psaki later clarified in a statement that any Russian forces crossing the Ukrainian border would be considered a “renewed invasion” that would be met with a “swift, severe, and united response.” “President Biden also knows from long experience that the Russians have a comprehensive playbook of aggression that includes cyberattacks and paramilitary tactics in addition to military action.” These actions would be met with a response that was “decisive, reciprocal, and united.”
The Kremlin on Thursday slammed Biden’s comments on Ukraine, claiming that they destabilised an already tense situation.
Statements like these, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, “can exacerbate the situation by instilling false hopes in some hotheads in Ukraine.”
Peskov, on the other hand, did not rule out new security talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US Vice President Joe Biden.
This comes as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken prepares to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on Friday for a new round of security talks.
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