Biden expects Putin to order Ukraine invasion, promise ‘disaster for Russia’


WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said Wednesday he expected Russian President Vladimir Putin to order an invasion of Ukraine, and warned that “disaster” awaited Russia if that happened.

Biden’s remarks came after intelligence agencies warned such an attack could happen within a month.

“I guess he’s going to move in, he has to do something,” Biden said of the more than 100,000 Russian troops positioned along the Ukrainian border.

“It will be a disaster for Russia if they invade Ukraine further. Our allies and partners are ready to exact a heavy toll on Russia and the Russian economy,” Biden said during his second press conference in solo since taking office.

“And I think he will regret doing it,” Biden said of a possible invasion.

For months, the West has witnessed an extraordinary deployment of Russian forces and equipment on the eastern border with Ukraine.

The buildup referred to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, a Black Sea peninsula, which sparked an international outcry and triggered a series of sanctions against Moscow. The seizure of Crimea also led to Russia’s withdrawal from the Group of 8, or G-8, referring to the world’s eight major economies.

The Kremlin has previously defended the troop movement as a military exercise and denied it was preparing for an attack on Ukraine. Meanwhile, Moscow has demanded that Ukraine’s application for membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization be rejected.

Last week, Russian officials reiterated to NATO members and US officials that it is “absolutely mandatory to ensure that Ukraine never, ever, ever becomes a NATO member.”

“We need ironclad, watertight, bulletproof and legally binding safeguards. Not assurances, not safeguards, but guarantees,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters during the meeting. a press conference on January 10.

Since 2002, Ukraine has applied to join NATO, where the group’s Article 5 clause states that an attack on one member country is considered an attack on all.

The Biden administration and NATO members maintain they cannot accommodate such a request from the Kremlin.

Asked about presenting a united front against Russia, Biden played down fears that Washington and European allies would not be able to agree on a joint sanctions package if Moscow continued aggression.

“He has never seen sanctions like the ones I promised,” the president said of Putin, adding that Moscow “will pay a high price immediately, in the short term, in the medium term and in the long term.”

Biden’s remarks come as Secretary of State Antony Blinken leaves Kyiv after meetings with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

While in Kyiv, Blinken worked to reaffirm America’s support and commitment to Ukraine as the West awaits Putin’s next move.

“It is up to Ukrainians and no one else to decide their own future and the future of this country,” Blinken said before meeting behind closed doors with Zelenskyy.

Later this week, Blinken will meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva.

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