WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden said on Wednesday he had warned his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin of unprecedented US sanctions should Russian troops massed on the border of Ukraine launch an...
WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden said on Wednesday he had warned his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin of unprecedented US sanctions should Russian troops massed on the border of Ukraine launch an attack.
A day after talking for two hours by video link, Biden said Putin got "the message." "I made it very clear if in fact he invades Ukraine there will be severe consequences, severe consequences -- economic consequences like none he’s ever seen or ever have been seen," Biden told reporters at the White House.
But Biden added that sending US troops to confront Russia was "not on the table." Adding to diplomatic pressure on the Kremlin leader, new German Chancellor Olaf Scholz warned of "consequences" for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a huge Russian project to deliver natural gas to Germany.
Asked in an interview with Die Welt TV whether he could imagine using the pipeline as leverage to ward off a Russian attack on Ukraine, Scholz said his government wants "the inviolability of the borders to be respected" and "everybody understands that there would be consequences if this were not the case."
The White House had already suggested immediately after the video summit that stopping the Nord Stream 2 pipeline could be part of an economic response, although the issue is controversial in Europe, which relies heavily on Russian energy resources.
France’s foreign ministry said in a statement that Russia would face "strategic and massive consequences." Putin, however, defended Russia’s movement of up to 100,000 troops to the border of Ukraine, describing this as a defensive measure amid fears in the Kremlin that the one-time Soviet republic is being pulled into Nato’s sphere.
"Russia has a peaceful foreign policy, but has the right to defend its security," Putin said at a news conference with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
"We cannot but be concerned about the prospect of Ukraine’s possible admission to Nato, because this will undoubtedly be followed by the deployment of appropriate military contingents, bases and weapons that threaten us," he said.
The Russian leader stressed that Nato expanding eastwards is a "very sensitive" issue for Russia. Ukraine’s Western-leaning government wants to join the Nato military alliance but is nowhere close to being admitted. Russian troops already occupy Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula and Russian-backed separatist forces have carved out a pro-Moscow territory covering a swath of eastern Ukraine.