Biden says it would be 'disaster' for Russia if Putin invades Ukraine
19th January 2022

‘My guess is he will move in’: Biden says it would be a ‘disaster’ for Russia to attack Ukraine but suggests ‘minor incursion’ would elicit a lesser response

  • Biden said he is not sure of Vladimir Putin’s intentions in Ukraine, and that it may depend ‘what side of the bed’ he wakes up on 
  • He said he was ‘very concerned’ about the situation 
  • ‘I’m not so sure he is certain what he is going to do. My guess is he will move in,’ Biden said when asked if Putin would invade 

President Joe Biden said Wednesday it would be a ‘disaster’ for Russia if President Vladimir Putin orders an invasion of neighboring Ukraine – as he said he did not know Putin’s intentions but said his counterpart doesn’t want a ‘full-blown war.’  

Biden said he wasn’t certain of Putin’s intentions – saying it may be based on ‘which side of the bed he gets up on in the morning as to exactly what he’s going to do.’

‘I’m not so sure he is certain what he is going to do. My guess is he will move in. He has to do something,’ Biden said, saying that Russia already has intelligence agents operating inside the country.  

He also speculated on the issues Putin is weighing, amid the collapse of the old Soviet empire.

‘He is trying to find his place in the world between China and the West, ‘Biden said.

He said he was ‘very concerned’ about the situation, which he said could ‘very easily get out of hand.’ He called it one of the ‘most consequential’ situations since World War II ‘in terms of war and peace.’

‘I think he still does not want a full-blown war,’ Biden said, warning of the short and long-term consequences it would face. 

The president said Russia would pay a ‘dear price’ through sanctions if it acts, after assembling more than 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border. But he also spelled an area for possible talks on one of Russia’s demands – and even provided a reassurance on the issue of NATO expansion. 

‘He has never seen sanctions like the ones I promised will be imposed if he moves,’ Biden said of the economic response the U.S. would impose should Russia once again its neighbor, after seizing Crimea in 2014. 

‘It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and we end up having to fight about what to do and not do, et cetera,’ he said.

He said it would be a ‘disaster for Russia if they invade Ukraine.’ 

‘But if they actually do what they’re capable of doing with the forces amassed on the border, it is going to be a disaster for Russia if they further invade Ukraine. And that our allies and partners are ready to impose severe cost and significant harm on Russia and the Russian economy,’ the president said.

President Joe Biden said said Russia would pay a ‘dear price’ through sanctions if it invades Ukraine

He also spoke about his conversations with Putin – which included a summit in Geneva as well as calls and a zoom session.

 He said he told Russia it has occupied nations before but ‘the price has been extremely high.’

He asked how long Russia could sustain such an effort, which would cause great economic loss.   

‘How many years,’ Biden asked. One? Three? Five? Ten? ‘What toll does that take? It’s real. It’s consequential.’

‘This is not all just a cake walk for Russia,’ he predicted. ‘They’ll pay a stiff price immediately’ and in the medium and long term ‘if they do it,’ Biden said.

Biden said he is not sure of Vladimir Putin’s intentions, and that it may depend ‘what side of the bed’ he wakes up on

Biden spoke of the difficulty of Russia invading Ukraine from the North 

He also mentioned two Russian demands: Assurances that NATO not allow Ukraine to join the alliance, and a commitment not to position strategic weapons in Ukraine. 

‘We can work out something on the second piece,’ Biden predicted.

But on a pledge on admitting Ukraine to NATO, he said countries get to choose their own alliances. Then he added that in the ‘near term’ it was ‘not very likely’ Ukraine had been admitted since there was more work they have to do on democracy and other issues.

He also did not correct a questioner when a reporter said Ukrainian admission could be decades away. 

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