Biden vows that US troops will not move into Ukraine as tensions with Russia rise

The Independent
The Independent

President Joe Biden assured reporters that US troops would not be going into Ukraine even as 8,500 American troops are placed on heightened alert.

“There is not going to be any American forces moving to Ukraine,” Mr Biden told reporters at a store in Washington .

Mr Biden made the remarks despite the fact that on Monday, the Pentagon announced that Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin placed 8,500 troops on “heightened preparedness”. The president said that the forces were on high alert and are a part of a Nato operation .

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the announcement was made to be a part of a Nato force.

“So all of these consultations that have been happening over the last several days with our European partners and Nato partners has been about that,” she said. “The decision about whether they would be deployed would be made in coordination with our Nato partners and allies.”

The tensions come as Russian President Vladimir Putin amasses troops on the border between Russia and Ukraine and now on the entire Belarusian border.

“And I made it clear to President Putin, we have a sacred obligation, Article V obligation to our Nato allies and if in fact, he continued to build up and/or wants to move, we would be reinforcing those troops and I’ve spoken with every one of our Nato allies,” the US president said. “What would lead to that is what President Putin does or doesn’t do.”

Mr Biden responded to a reporter’s question affirmatively when asked if he could see himself personally sanctioning Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“We have no intention of putting American forces or putting NATO forces in Ukraine but as I said, there are going to be serious economic consequences,” he said.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said there had not been evidence of de-escalation.

“We haven’t seen the de escalation that is necessary for diplomacy and dialogue to be successful,” he said.

At the same time, Mr Price criticised Russia designating activist Alexei Navalny as a terrorist, calling it “a new low in Russia’s continuing crackdown on civil society.”

“We urge Russia to cease the abuse of of ‘extremism’ designations to target nonviolent organisations, to end its repression its repression of Mr Navalny and his supporters and honor its international obligations to respect and ensure human rights and fundamental freedoms,” he said. “The Russian people, like all people, have the right to speak freely, form peaceful associations to common ends, exercise religious freedom and and have their voices heard through free and fair elections.”

Mr Price said Russia’s surge into Belarus is a cause for deep concern.

Ms Psaki also responded to claims by Ukraine’s government that an invasion from Russia was not imminent.

“No one can get into the mind of President Putin or Russian leadership,” she said, noting that Mr Putin has still amassed 100,000 troops on the Russia-Ukraine border. “While our preferred path is diplomacy and we can’t predict where the mind of President Putin is, we’ve certainly seen aggressive actions and preparations increasing at the border.”

On Monday evening, Mr Biden expressed optimism at the agreement among world leaders.

“I had a very, very, very good meeting. Total unanimity with all the European leaders,” he said. But Germany has refused to say it would provide weapons to Ukraine. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said explicitly “We don’t provide any lethal weapons.”

Ms Psaki said Mr Biden was speaking to the fact there was agreement including Germany about the fact there will be severe consequences should Russia invade.

“As our National Security Adviser and our Secretary of State have said, that unity doesn’t happen on its, own--it’s required a lot of work,” she said. “It also means that actions may not be identical, but we will be unified and they will be strong and severe.”

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