The White House has been left scrambling after President Joe Biden seemed to give Russian President Vladimir Putin the go-ahead to invade Ukraine.
In a press conference Wednesday, Biden admitted that Putin hasn’t indicated he plans to stand down after moving troops to Russia’s border with Ukraine, despite the threat of sanctions from Washington. With that, the U.S. president seems to have thrown in the towel on preventing Russian aggression toward Ukraine.
“I’m not so sure he has, he’s certain what he’s going to do,” Biden said of Putin, according to Fox News. “My guess is he will move in. He has to do something.”
Biden gives Russia the go for “minor incursion”
Later in the nearly two-hour presser, Biden suggested there’s been what Fox News described as “disagreement within NATO about imposing strong sanctions on Russia because it would harm the economies of some European allies.”
Biden said the consequences that Russia will face will depend on how far Putin goes.
“It depends on what it does,” Biden said, according to Fox. “It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and then we have to end up having to fight about what to do and not do, etcetera.”
Based on that comment, it seems like Moscow has no reason to back down — especially if they’re planning something “minor.” Still, Biden insisted that a full-scale attack on Ukraine would “be a disaster for Russia.”
White House scrambles to clarify messaging
The relatively soft words from the president left the White House trying to clean up his mess with a message that had a little more bite to it.
In a statement, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tried to make it clear that there would be “severe” consequences for any military advancement by Russia into Ukraine.
“President Biden has been clear with the Russian President: 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,” she said, according to Breitbart.
“President Biden also knows from long experience that the Russians have an extensive playbook of aggression short of military action, including cyberattacks, and paramilitary tactics,” Psaki added. “And, he affirmed today that those acts of Russian aggression will be met with a decisive, reciprocal, and united response.”
Only time will tell.