After Biden’s comments, Ukrainian leader pleads ‘no minor incursions’

  • Russia has concentrated its forces near the Ukrainian border
  • Top US Ambassador Blingen is in talks with allies
  • There is no ‘small infiltration’, says the President of Ukraine

BERLIN / KIEV, Jan 20 (Reuters) – Western nations sought to unite Ukraine on Thursday after US President Joe Biden suggested that allies be divided over how to react to any “small incursion” from Russia. There is no such thing.

“We want to remind the superpowers that there are no small incursions and no small nations, no small casualties, no small grief over the loss of loved ones,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky tweeted in English and Ukrainian. For Fiden’s comments.

“I say this as president of a great power.”

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Russia has amassed tens of thousands of troops on its borders with Ukraine, and fears Western nations are planning a new offensive against a country occupied by Moscow in 2014. Russia denies planning an attack, but says it may take unspecified military action. The list of demands, including NATO’s pledge, has not been met.

At a news conference on Wednesday, Biden said he expected Russian President Vladimir Putin to launch some sort of operation, and suggested that Washington and its allies not agree to respond if Moscow halted a major invasion.

“My guess is he’s going inside,” Biden said. “He has to do something.”

“Russia will be held accountable if it invades – it depends on what it does,” Biden said. “If it was a small incursion it would be a matter of what we should do, what we should not do, and so on,” Biden said, adding that the invasion was a “disaster” for Russia.

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Shortly after Biden’s press conference, the White House withdrew from any suggestion that a small-scale Russian military incursion would weaken the U.S. response.

“If any Russian military forces cross the border into Ukraine, it will be a renewed invasion, and it will face a quick, tough and united retaliation from the United States and our allies,” said White House spokeswoman Zhen Zhaki.

Biden’s comments sent Western leaders to control the damage, and they were determined to prove their solidarity.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blingen met with British, French and German ministers in Berlin on Thursday.

“Whichever path Russia chooses, it will unite the United States, Germany and our allies,” he told a news conference with German Foreign Minister Annalena Berbach.

Satellite image of armored personnel carriers and trucks on January 19, 2022 at the Klimovo Storage Facility in Klimovo, Russia. © 2022 Guide via Maxar Technologies / REUTERS

“We urge Russia to take immediate steps to reduce its aggression, and any aggression or aggression will have serious consequences,” Baerbock told a news conference.

Other allies made similar comments, with some clearly keeping in mind Biden’s views. A new offensive could be met with “massive economic and financial sanctions. The Atlantic transnational community stands firm in this,” said Ursula van der Leyen, chair of the European Commission, which heads the EU administration.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “If Russia invades Ukraine, it will no doubt be a disaster not only for Ukraine but also for Russia.”

Moscow, for its part, said US threats of sanctions did not calm the situation.

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‘His tongue slipped’

While Western nations have long insisted on their united position in public, some officials have personally expressed frustration with Biden’s comments, although they are unlikely to change Moscow’s calculations.

“It’s not useful, it’s actually a gift to Putin, but we should not read too much about it. Biden did not show the green light to Moscow for the attack on Ukraine.

Another said: “I think the Russians know how to rank Biden’s ideas, and they will categorize it – a coffee.”

Moscow provided the West with a list of security demands during talks last week.

Western nations have repeatedly imposed sanctions since Russian troops occupied the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine in 2014. But such moves have had very little impact on Russian policy, with Moscow, Europe’s major energy supplier, predicting that the West will stop aggressive action. Enough to interfere with gas exports.

U.S. and European officials say strong financial action has not yet been attempted. Germany has signaled that it could suspend Nord Stream 2, a new gas pipeline from Russia that ignores Ukraine if Moscow invades. read more

“Gas has not yet flowed through North Stream 2, which means this pipeline to Germany, the United States and our allies, not to Russia,” Blinken told a news conference on Thursday.

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Reports by Simon Lewis, Sabine Seabold, Pavel Polyduk, Benoit von Overstretton, Marine Strauss and Dmitry Antonov by Peter Groff, Timothy Heritage and Francis Kerry

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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