Biden warns Putin of sanctions, aid for Ukraine military if Russia invades

U.S. President Joe Biden holds virtual talks with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin amid Western fears that Moscow plans to attack Ukraine at the White House in Washington, U.S., December 7, 2021. (Reuters photo)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — U.S. President Joe Biden warned his Russia counterpart Vladimir Putin on Tuesday that the West would impose “strong economic and other measures” on Russia if it invades Ukraine.

The two leaders held two hours of virtual talks on Ukraine and other disputes in a video call about U.S.-Russian relations.

Relations between the United States and Russia have sunk to their lowest point since the end of the Cold War more than three decades ago.

Biden warned Putin that he could face stiff economic sanctions, the disruption of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Europe, and that the United States and European allies would provide additional defensive capabilities to Ukraine, Reuters reported.

The president “made clear that the U.S. and our Allies would respond with strong economic and other measures in the event of military escalation,” the White House said in a statement, Reuters reported.

Putin responded to the warning with a demand for reliable, legally binding guarantees against NATO expansion eastward and complained about NATO attempts to “develop” Ukrainian territory, Reuters cited Kremlin as saying.

The White House said Biden did not make any guarantees to limit NATO expansion with regard to Ukraine.

“I will tell you clearly and directly he made no such commitments or concessions,” Biden’s national security advisor Jake Sullivan said, according to Reuters.

“He stands by the proposition that countries should be able to freely choose who they associate with,” he added.

“Things we did not do in 2014 we are prepared to do now,” Sullivan told reporters after the call, referring to the reaction to Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

In case of an attack, the United States would be looking to respond positively if Baltic allies ask for additional U.S. “capabilities” or “deployments,” he said.

The United States could also target Russia’s biggest banks and Moscow’s ability to convert rubles into dollars and other currencies, one official said.

Biden was “direct and straightforward” with Putin, Sullivan said. “There was a lot of give-and-take, there was no finger-wagging, but the president was crystal clear where the United States stands on all of these issues,” Sullivan said.

The Kremlin said Putin told Biden it was wrong to put all the responsibility on Russia’s shoulders for current tensions.

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