Biden believes Putin will make military move into Ukraine

‘It is going to be a disaster for Russia if they further invade’ country, says US president

US president Joe Biden has predicted that Russian president Vladimir Putin will make a move into Ukraine and said Russia would pay dearly for a full-scale invasion. Video: C-Span

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US president Joe Biden has said he thinks Russia will invade Ukraine, but warned it would pay a heavy price.

At a lengthy press conference in the White House to mark his first year in office, Mr Biden suggested that Russia could lose access to using the US dollar as part of sanctions which would be imposed on foot of any military incursion.

Asked about the intentions of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, Mr Biden said: “My guess is he will move in. He has to do something.”

Russia has massed about 100,000 troops close to its border with Ukraine which western countries believe could be a prelude to an invasion. However Moscow denies it is planning any invasion.

Mr Biden also appeared to indicate that the response of the West could be determined by the scale of Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

“Russia will be held accountable if it invades – and it depends on what it does. It’s one thing if it is a minor incursion and we end up having to fight about what to do and what to not do, et cetera,” Mr Biden said. “But if they actually do what they’re capable of doing ... it is going to be a disaster for Russia if they further invade Ukraine.”

Questioned on what he meant by a “minor incursion”, the president said Nato allies were not united on how to respond, depending on the nature of any Russian move.

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He said there were “differences” among them and that he was trying to make sure that “everybody’s on the same page”.

The president said he was concerned that the situation in Ukraine “could get easily out of hand”.

He said it was a possibility that he could hold a summit with Mr Putin to try to deal with the tensions over Ukraine.

The US president said he believed any decision by Russia in relation to Ukraine would be made solely by Mr Putin. He suggested he was not fully confident that Russian officials with whom top White House advisers had been negotiating were fully informed about Mr Putin’s thinking.

Stalling domestic agenda

Mr Biden said he had not overpromised to Americans prior to taking up office, despite his domestic political agenda stalling in Congress.

“I did not anticipate that there would be such a stalwart effort (by the opposition Republicans) to make sure that the most important thing was that President Biden didn’t get anything done,” he said

He suggested that his signature “Build Back Better” social and climate spending plan, which is being held up in the US Senate, may have to be broken up into chunks to be passed.

Mr Biden’s poll numbers have fallen steadily over recent months but the president indicated that he would not be changing tack.

However he acknowledged that Americans were concerned and frustrated over a resurgence of Covid-19 and rising inflation.

He said he would be getting out of the White House to try to meet with Americans to discuss what he has achieved in his first year – including a major initiative to improve road, rail, bridges and ports across the country. He also argued that unemployment had fallen to below four per cent.

In a statement issued after the press conference the White House appeared to clarify some of the president Biden’s comments regarding any response to a Russian attack.

“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.

“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. And he affirmed today that those acts of Russian aggression will be met with a decisive, reciprocal, and united response.”

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