US president Joe Biden has warned that he believes Russia will “move in” on Ukraine, stating his belief that Vladimir Putin wouldn’t have amassed over 100,000 troops near the border otherwise.
“My guess is he will move in,” Biden said speaking at a news conference. “He has to do something.”
The president also made remarks that cast doubts over the NATO alliance’s unity in the face of threatened Russian aggression. Whilst he seemed confident in a united front in the face of a full-scale invasion, Biden seemed to suggest that a more minor incursion might be met with disagreement amongst western allies on an appropriate response.
“Russia will be held accountable if it invades – and it depends on what it does. It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and we end up having to fight about what to do and what to not do, et cetera,”
The comments were met with a strong reaction from many, who believe that Biden’s words play into the hands of Putin. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted “We want to remind the great powers that there are no minor incursions and small nations” in response to the statement.
The White House sought to clear up any confusion caused by the president’s remarks shortly after the news conference ended, stressing that an incursion of any size would result in a tough response.
“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,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.