WASHINGTON DC (Agencies): President Biden on Wednesday said the United States is not considering sending troops to Ukraine amid rising fears about the possibility of a Russian military invasion there.
“That is not on the table,” Biden told reporters at the White House before departing for a trip to Kansas City, Mo.
“We have a moral obligation and a legal obligation to our NATO allies if they were to attack under Article 5, it’s a sacred obligation. That obligation does not extend to … Ukraine,” he added.
Biden said it would “depend upon what the rest of the NATO countries were willing to do as well” but rejected the idea that the U.S. would “unilaterally use force to confront Russia” if it were to invade.
The president’s comments came a day after his tense two-hour virtual meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin during which White House officials said the American president warned his Russian counterpart of harsh economic sanctions should Russia invade Ukraine.
Biden on Wednesday described the meeting as “straightforward” and said there were no “minced words” with Putin.
“I made it very clear, if in fact he invades Ukraine there will be severe consequences,” Biden said, adding that Russia would incur economic penalties “like none he has ever seen.”
Asked if Putin got the message, Biden replied, “I am absolutely confident that he got the message.”
Biden has urged Putin to de-escalate through diplomatic conversations with the United States and other European countries. He told reporters he hoped the U.S. would announce high-level conversations between Russia and other NATO allies by the end of the week.
“The positive news is that thus far our teams have been in constant contact,” Biden said.
Russia has amassed tens of thousands of troops on the border with Ukraine, raising concerns about the prospect of Moscow launching a military incursion similar to what it did in 2014 when it seized Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.
Russia has tried to paint Ukraine and NATO as the aggressors and demanded a legally-binding commitment that NATO not expand eastward to include Ukraine, which is not currently a member of the alliance. U.S. and European officials have refused to make such commitments.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters Tuesday that a Russian invasion of Ukraine could result in the U.S. sending additional forces to NATO’s eastern flank. Sullivan also said the U.S. would provide additional defensive assistance to Kyiv, beyond what is already being provided. But Biden’s remarks on Wednesday made clear that he would draw the line there, unless other NATO countries stepped up to defend Ukraine.
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