President Biden on Wednesday predicted Russia will once again invade Ukraine.
Speaking at a news conference, Biden said he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin does not want a “full-blown war” but does want to test the United States and NATO — and probably will proceed with actions the Kremlin will come to regret because of their high cost.
“I’m not so sure he [is] certain what he’s going to do,” Biden said. “My guess is he will move in. He has to do something.”
“I think what you’re going to see is that Russia will be held accountable if it invades, and it depends on what it does,” Biden said. “It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion, and then we end up having to fight about what to do and not do, et cetera, but if they actually do what they are capable of doing with the force they’ve massed on the border, it is going to be a disaster for Russia.”
Biden alerted, “Our allies and partners are ready to impose severe costs and significant harm on Russia and the Russian economy.”
Biden spoke as his top diplomat, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, visited Kyiv to offer U.S. support to the Ukrainian government in the event of a renewed war. More than 100,000 Russian forces have been massed near the Ukrainian border for weeks, according to U.S. officials, prompting fears that Russia, which annexed Crimea in 2014, will invade the country again this winter. Since that annexation, Russia has fueled a separatist conflict in the country’s east that has claimed about 14,000 lives, according to Ukrainian officials.
“President Biden has been clear with the Russian President: 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,”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement. “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.”
While massing forces on Ukraine’s border, Russia has demanded that NATO cease its eastward expansion and roll back its forces and infrastructure to 1997 boundaries. Russia has also demanded that the United States rule out placing offensive weapons in Ukraine. Putin has also complained about exercises near Russia’s borders that have crossed the Kremlin’s red lines.
Biden said the Russian leader has expressed two primary concerns to him during phone calls on the matter — the possible future placement of U.S. strategic weapons in Ukraine and possible future membership in NATO for Ukraine. The United States and Russia can come to an agreement on the first issue, Biden said, while also noting that Ukraine is unlikely to join NATO anytime soon.
“The likelihood that Ukraine is going to join NATO in the near term is not very likely based on much more work they have to do in terms of democracy and a few other things going on there, and whether or not the major allies in the West would vote to bring Ukraine in right now,” Biden said.