President Biden on Tuesday held a two-hour video call with Russian President Vladimir Putin and warned him that if he decides to invade Ukraine, the United States and its European allies are ready to make Moscow pay.
It is estimated that nearly 100,000 Russian troops have been amassed at Russia’s border with Ukraine, raising fears that Russia is preparing to launch a military invasion, as it did in 2014, when annexed the Crimean peninsula to Ukraine.
Biden is deeply concerned about the military build-up around Ukraine, his national security adviser Jake Sullivan told White House reporters on Tuesday. If Russia invaded, the Biden administration would impose “strong economic measures”, send military materiel to Ukraine and boost military support for NATO allies like the Baltic states, Romania and Poland, Sullivan said.
“I’m going to look you in the eye and tell you – as President Biden looked President Putin in the eye and told him today – that the things we didn’t do in 2014, we’re ready to do it. do now, ”Sullivan said.
Sullivan declined to give details on the type of economic sanctions being considered.
But he said that one thing he sees as “a lever for the West” is the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. “If Vladimir Putin wants to see gas flowing through this pipeline, he may not want to take the risk of invading Ukraine, “said Sullivan, adding that discussions on Nord Stream 2 were” the top priority “.
Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services panel, issued a statement after a confidential briefing by Pentagon officials on the situation in Ukraine. He said he couldn’t give details, but said the build-up at the border is “quite different from before as it looks like Putin is preparing to invade Ukraine.”
Inhofe criticized the president’s call with Putin, saying Biden “smiled and waved at Putin like he was an old friend, but said nothing about the significant consequences of their aggressive behavior.” He said the sanctions were not enough and that the United States should send emergency military assistance to Ukraine which should include both weapons and sharing of cyber and intelligence with allies so that ‘they can contribute to efforts to respond to the latest escalation.
Sullivan said Biden was “blunt and straightforward with Putin,” and said there was a lot of give and take between the two leaders but “no fuss.”
“We still don’t think Putin has made a decision” on whether to invade, “Sullivan said, adding that Biden had laid out” very clearly the consequences if he decides to move. “
Sullivan said Biden offered Putin an “alternative path” involving diplomacy and peaceful negotiations.
“I will say that formal agreements or formal treaties were not on the table in the conversation today,” Sullivan said. “But the simple idea that the United States flanked by our European allies and partners would be ready to talk to Russia about strategic issues in the European theater – which was on the table.”
After his call with Putin, Biden also spoke with the leaders of Germany, France, Italy and the UK. The president also plans to brief congressional leaders and hold talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday.
Senator Jeanne Shaheen, DN.H., and Senator Thom Tillis, RN.C, co-chairs of the NATO Senate Observer Group, also said in a joint statement after the briefing that they were concerned about ‘a Russian invasion of Ukraine. “Make no mistake that any attack on a European partner will meet with a strong and robust response against Putin and his regime, including tough economic sanctions,” Shaheen and Tillis said.
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