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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pushes back against Biden: ‘There are no minor inroads’

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pushes back against Biden: ‘There are no minor inroads’

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“We want to remind the big powers that there are no minor incursions and small nations,” Zelensky said. wrote on Twitter in an apparent response to Biden’s remarks on Wednesday. “Just as there are no minor casualties and little grief over the loss of loved ones.”

Biden’s comments at a press conference Wednesday about the prospect of Russian military action alarmed Ukrainian officials as Russia amassed tens of thousands of troops along the border. As US officials have engaged in several rounds of diplomatic talks with Russia in recent days – and Secretary of State Antony Blinken is meeting with his Russian counterpart on Friday – US officials have warned an attack could be imminent.

In his comments on Wednesday, Biden suggested that a “minor incursion” could cause disagreement among NATO countries over the response force in Moscow.

“It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and we end up having to fight over what to do and what not to do, etc.,” Biden said.

“If there is something happening where Russian forces are crossing the border, killing Ukrainian fighters, etc., I think that changes everything,” the president said later. “But it depends on what he does, how far we will get total unity on the NATO front.”

On Thursday, Biden sought to clarify his earlier remarks, telling reporters at the White House, “I’ve been absolutely clear with President Putin. He has no misunderstandings. If assembled Russian units cross the Ukrainian border, that’s an invasion,” Biden said. “But he will face a severe, coordinated economic response that I have discussed in detail with our allies, as well as spelled out very clearly for President Putin.”

As he sought to clean up his earlier remarks, Biden noted that Russia has a “long history” of using measures other than overt military action to carry out aggression, from paramilitary tactics to cyberattacks.

“We have to be prepared to respond to that equally and decisively,” Biden said.

On Wednesday, Biden also hinted that he thought Putin would launch an attack, although he said he didn’t believe the Russian president had made up his mind. “I’m not sure he’s certain what he’s going to do. I guess he’s going to move in. He’s got to do something,” he said.


Kyiv officials were “stunned” the day after Biden’s comments, CNN reported Wednesday.

On Thursday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told the Wall Street Journal that Biden’s comments could serve as an invitation to attack by Moscow.

“Speaking of minor and full incursions or full invasion, you can’t be half-aggressive. You’re either aggressive or you’re not aggressive,” Kuleba said. “We must not give Putin any chance to play with quasi-aggression operations or small incursions. This aggression was there since 2014. It is a fact.”

Biden and US officials have repeatedly sought to emphasize that Moscow would pay a heavy price to invade Ukraine, on a scale never seen before after past Russian aggression. But Biden’s comments differentiating between a full-scale invasion and a “minor incursion” seemed to publicly undermine that sentiment.

“There’s some truth in that, which didn’t need to be said out loud,” a NATO diplomat told CNN. “But again, it’s not like the Russians didn’t know that, say, a cyber attack on Ukraine wouldn’t trigger a full-scale response.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki also sought to clarify Biden’s comments after Wednesday’s press conference. “If there is a movement of military troops across the border into Ukraine, if they enter Ukraine and invade, that’s an invasion. There will be serious economic consequences,” Psaki said in an interview. at Fox.

The Biden administration on Thursday confirmed the transfer of US weapons from regional allies to Ukraine amid concerns about a possible Russian invasion. The administration also implemented new sanctions against four current and former Ukrainian officials, including two current lawmakers, whom the United States accuses of participating in Russia’s disinformation campaign against Ukraine.

Blinken was in Berlin on Thursday to meet with French, German and British officials ahead of his meeting in Geneva on Friday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Blinken stressed the importance of standing up against Russian aggression, stressing that it is a threat not only to Ukraine but also to rules-based international principles.

“There’s been a lot of speculation about President Putin’s true intentions, but we don’t really have to guess – he’s told us that many times. He’s setting the stage for an invasion because he doesn’t believe that Ukraine is a sovereign nation”. Blinken said.

Vice President Kamala Harris said on ABC’s Good Morning America Thursday: “We will interpret any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by Russia and Vladimir Putin as aggressive action and that will entail costs, serious and certain”.

CNN’s Kylie Atwood, Jennifer Hansler, Betsy Klein, Kevin Liptak and Luke McGee contributed to this report.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pushes back against Biden: ‘There are no minor inroads’

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